Last night was the first night that I gave up on sleeping in my car in the midst of the attempt. It was just too uncomfortable and there were too many changes. I had swapped out both of the 30 degree sleeping bags for one zero degree sleeping bag and a blanket. I used the blanket to create a shroud and attempted to sleep underneath it. For some reason, it just wasn’t working out. The zero degree was too hot, the environs were too cold, and the seat was too uncomfortable.
Perhaps it wasn’t that the seat was too uncomfortable, but that I was imagining ways to improve the car that would make it infinitely more comfortable and the difference between what I was experiencing and what I imagined I could be experiencing was just too great. Either way, the discomfort was impossible to ignore.
I essentially sat there for hours. I spent one of those hours watching the introductory programming course from Stanford’s iTunes University podcast, CS 106B. I learned absolutely nothing, but it was the equivalent of syllabus day. I did manage to rekindle my interest in learning how to program. Ah, finally some sort of academic fervor, so long ago lost in my life.
So at about 2:30, I up and left. I packed what I needed and started walking. The plan was to sleep outside, employing my zero degree sleeping bag and the self-inflating mattress to go where no man had gone before. For some reason, as I was packing, I felt a great reluctance. I was already tired. This was risky. It was cold. I must have spent half an hour agonizing over what to bring and what not to bring, as I was planning to go from where I slept to running with Suran in the morning.
I started heading to Krannert Center at first because I knew of a place that was pretty well hidden, but then I got lazy and found a rooftop very close to my car. Climbing up the stairs and ladder, I felt very conspicuous. The zero degree sleeping bag is quite large and puffy. I realized this morning that it looked like a stereotypical burglar’s bag of loot, and that was what I carried as I went up. I crouched down. Artificial lighting from streetlamps lamps weakly flooded everywhere except behind a small boundary wall that marked the edge of the rooftop. I could barely tell between street lights and headlights, never knowing if there was somebody who could see me. I set up the self-inflating air mattress there, in the shade, and began carefully packing my belongings so that the morning dew, if there was any, wouldn’t damage anything. Recently, my car windows had been frosting instead.
Finally, I unpacked my sleeping bag and carefully got in. I snuggled as much as I could and then accidentally looked up.
Just like the time I slept on top of Krannert, I was blown away. The stars were so clear they seemed to be pulsing with life. The shapes and geometries they formed didn’t seem static. Instead, they seemed to be moving, swirling. I was reminded of how our ancestors must have looked upon this sight every night, must have been familiar with its every nuance. There’s beauty and mathematics in the stars. There’s knowledge to be had. There’s also a sense of connectedness that I had never felt before. The universe was alive before me, moving to its own heartbeat and welcoming me as part of someone else’s faraway star, on a distant planet. There was no denying that the Tao was strong last night.
I stared, in awe, for a long time. At some point, battling the dry, cold air, I fell asleep.
I woke up when the lights turned on in the window next to me.