As a kid, having grown up in the province of Saskatchewan in Canada, I never saw the aurora borealis until I was fifteen years old. I was leaving a high school theatre after a musical production with my parents. They were chattering away about something or other, and I moved over to stand by a chainlink fence where I considered letting my tongue freeze to its metal in a bid for something more interesting to happen. I looked up, because the sky was shining in a way that caught my eyes beyond the halogen parking lot lights.
All background noise dropped away behind me with what I saw up there, and I felt as though my eyes were filled with the alien brilliance of that sky. It spread clear and black above me with a crisp dash of stars, and through it all apple green light quavered, grew bright and faded, undulated in waves so shining that the skin on my hands reflected their colour. My father stood next to me after a while, and we watched the sky together.
"What is that?" I whispered. "What's happening?"
"Those are the northern lights," he said. He laughed. "You've never seen them?"
"No. I've only read about them."
"It's like you've never looked up at the sky before. They happen all the time."
I knew what he said was true. Everyone I knew had experienced them but me. There was a sentience about them. They were the biggest reaction I had ever seen. Dogs barked. Buffalo swayed. These lights danced.
They were as obvious as stars. It was as though I had never looked up before. The sky grew a new head, and my heart pounded. In my young yet weary chest, I knew that I did not know the world.