We had just met, firmly in the phase of nervous energy, starry-eyed. On our second date, we talked as the sun set and the crisp winter sky deepened with the onset of night; we could have stayed there for hours if not for the cold. The soft turning over of day into night- with the first stars dotting a still-purple sky- holds cherished memories. Meandering through a sculpture garden in D.C. just as the sun faded behind monuments, we walked and laughed under the dark grey city sky, enjoying each other’s voices and warmth. As our relationship grew, so too did our moments of quotidian joy when discovering shared appreciativeness of nature, like Ira pointing out the beauty of a full moon rising through the trees or Troy gazing at the stars as we chatted outdoors. A rhythm marked our time together: waxing and waning moons, Orion traveling slowly across the sky, endless small conversations about a bright star or rising moon where I would place my head on your shoulder or stand close to you, leaning against the windowsill. Right before we left State College, we had a picnic in a nearby park. The muggy summer nights had brought with them scores of fireflies, gently flickering earthbound stars. We welcomed their presence and the way they were attuned to twilight, waking up just as the stars did. During our picnic dusk fell and fireflies surrounded us, giving us a farewell to quiet Pennsylvania nights. When we arrived to Houston, though, new sunsets greeted us as we listened to cicadas from the balcony and basked in this new view of night falling, arms wrapped around each other. I am looking forward to our adventures as we continue building a life together. There are so many late-night conversations to be had under winter stars; strolls to take at twilight; lazy cuddling to do on our balcony as we point out constellations. I am elated and grateful to share my future with you both, and love you so much. Troy and Ira, Ira and Troy, thank you for being my people.
- Lars Stoltzfus-Brown, 2020