It’s been hard to sleep lately. Not for the oh-so-obvious C-19 reasons, but because of the moon. The sky’s big pizza pie. When it’s full and bright, I call it Cosmo’s moon because that’s what they call it in Moonstruck, one of my all-time favorite movies for mixing the truth about love and death with laughter.
Tonight I slip out of bed, cinch my robe at the waist, and go to the bedroom window to gaze at the glitter path coming straight at me across the ocean. I feel like a moth, drawn so keenly to this light the way I am, and my mind goes back to a night many moons ago.
I was camping with my grandparents at Rincon Beach in southern California. Gram was digging through the camper’s cupboards for graham crackers while Dee and I threaded marshmallows onto skewers to roast over a crackling fire.
From our vantage point, high up on a ridge overlooking the Pacific, the pin-pricked sky looked like the dome of a planetarium. It was the first time I’d ever seen a full moon at the sea’s edge.
“Dee! Dee! Look at that!” I said, tugging on her windbreaker.
“What, Luv?” She said absently as she peeled foil from a chocolate bar, her eyes squinting in the smoke.
“The ocean,” I said and stood up, pointing to the glimmering waves like I was Pocahontas pointing at the New World. “It’s making liquid silver!” I’d heard of this stuff before because my mom had a pair of tear-shaped earrings made from it.
Dee glanced back at Gram, standing at the open kitchen window, and they shared a knowing smile.
“That’s not silver, Luv,” said Dee as she looked out at the ocean. “That’s moonshine diffracting along the top of the waves.”
The explanation didn’t matter to me. I’d seen the moon making magic with my own two eyes. And I still see it today.
It’s been said that the person you are inside doesn’t have an age. You’re all the ages you’ve ever been and the age you are this very moment, like those Russian dolls that nest one inside the other.
Tonight that moon, the same moon that has seen me at eight and forty-eight, reminds me that even though one day I will become a wizened woman, part of me will forever be that little girl eager to drink in the world and its wonders, like so much high-octane, zero-proof moonshine.
But it also reminds me that things are often not what they seem, no matter how certain I am. The truth, capital T, can be as slippery as a snake. Things can seem one way one day and totally different the next. Moods go up and down like tidewater. And what looks like liquid silver is really the light of the moon dancing with the waves of the ocean.
Cosmo’s moon, despite its mercurial nature, is a comfort to me. Every 29.5 days it appears in all its glittering glory to say, You are a child of the universe no less than the trees and the stars, and you have a right to be here. Even if you are moody and confused sometimes.
Photos courtesy of Judy Fairchild.