When I was sixteen years old, I saw the Milky Way for the first time. This is the truest thing that I have ever written and it will be almost everything I can do to commit it into black and white print for the first time.
I was six months old when I was diagnosed with Retinitis Pigmentosa. I am lucky, the type that I have is not the most vicious or devastating. It means that I am night blind, that my peripheral vision is slowly narrowing into a pinhole of vision, and that my depth perception is gradually flattening away to nothing.
My cousins and I used to go out and lie on sleeping bags in the back of a pickup truck or, later, on top of one of my aunt's van and watch meteor showers. They would watch. I would stare up into the black sky and study the seven bright points of light that I could see and wonder what it was like.
When I was sixteen, my father did the thing that all good fathers promise their children they will do. With the help of a military surplus catalog, my dad gave me the galaxy. It happened because he ordered a pair of Russian military night vision goggles, intending to use them so he could walk his sprinklers at night in the fields to make sure that they didn't get plugged by debris in the irrigation water. When he got them, we waited for the night to fall and then, we tried them out, after breathlessly reading the instructions over and over and over again in anticipation.
Dad turned off our yard light and we went outside. I put on the night vision goggles and removed the lens caps and looked up into the sky. It was a personal miracle. Stretching...