All this astronomical nighttime sky talk has inspired me, so brace yourselves for my most frustrating free-associated personal anecdote ever on RJ where, amazingly, you may be even more frustrated for
me than by
Back when I looked 17 (but was years older and still a self-hating virgin about to bust at the seams), backpacking Slovenia at a lake idyll in Bled, I stumbled upon a fellow traveler reading and sunbathing by the water's edge, and noticed the book's cover:
Even knowing nothing I knew that had to be a gay book. I mean, with an author named "Edmund White?" C'mon!
Ignoring the book I struck up a conversation because he really turned me on - midwest high school Prom King type (turned out he was from Chicago, and as I learned later had
been Prom King), dirty blonde hair, a light dusting of brown fur on his pecs, a physique to die for, and light eyes, one of which was lazy and didn't detract but accentuated his perfection. He said he was going to climb Mount Triglav and did I want to join him?
I'd never been mountain climbing before much less with a personable muscular hunk who backpacked shirtless in Dolphin shorts so I agreed. At sunset on the first day of climbing we set up “camp” at the edge of a mountain lake we had to ourselves – he with his sleeping bag and me with my “sleep sheet sack,” a sleeping bag liner
which, absent the bag, was akin to sleeping in a giant pillowcase. Right before the sky blackened a group of campers arrived and started a fire a hundred yards or so away. Then he said “Prepare yourself – the show’s about to begin.”
What he meant was the light show. With no city lights bleaching the night sky I observed not a major astronomical event but an everyday one – ongoing meteor showers clearly visible to the naked eye with the gauzy panorama of the Milky Way as backdrop, so framed by the peaks surrounding us as to evoke a planetarium. But what I wasn’t prepared for was how cold it got at that altitude. I shivered all night in that flimsy sack on a bed of rocks, debating whether to ask him whether I could share his sleeping bag, and I would've being so far from the influence of friends and family if it weren't for the proximity of those damned campers. To this day my greatest regret was not asking that night, nor the nights after as we ascended to greater, colder and more barren heights. I traveled light in those days, without even a camera. He could have been my first and greatest love and I not only don't have a single photo but I can’t even remember his name, yet on clear nights with starry skies I can't look up without thinking of him.