Last night I went looking for the moon. I wanted to see it rising over the red tile roofs of my condo complex--benign brightness and beauty, a silver river of light pouring out of the darkness. Instead there was a dirty blanket of sky, one corner torn and scrap of light showing through. 1983, the news reports said, was the last time the moon came so close in its orbit. In 1983 I'd already been in Los Angeles nearly a decade. Mr. Ex and I were in love then. Maybe I was in a play. Maybe I saw the moon that night before going into a rehearsal, or maybe I was captivated by it standing in an alley between scenes of a performance and came to my senses in a panic wondering if I might be late for an entrance. I don't remember that moon. Maybe Mr. Ex was already changing then, two years out of law school and besotted with our relative wealth after years of scraping by. Maybe he looked at the moon and saw his future, unbelievably large and bright.
I had no children in 1983. Although my son was thirteen years old and somewhere under that moon, I didn't know where. I didn't know his name. Maybe he was in a park playing basketball, or going into a movie theater to see Star Wars for the the twentieth time. Motherhood was my secret then. A part of me covered over and not allowed into the light. Mr. Ex and I had agreed we wouldn't be having children, but maybe by 1983 with our checking account growing fat, that resolve had begun to wane.
In the year of this moon, the light resides in my children. All three of them. It seems something of a miracle that both of my daughters, now grown women, are asleep in my house tonight. And just four nights ago I stood in my son's backyard with him and his wife and children as we took turns peering through a telescope at the moon.
One night years ago as Mr. Ex and I lay in our bed in our apartment, I heard yelling. Across the street the homeless man who sometimes stayed in the crumbling house owned by an ancient silent film actress was patrolling our block with his shopping cart. We called him "Ratso" after Ratso Rizzo from the movie Midnight Cowboy. "Diane," Ratso bayed. "Diiannne." A jolt of paranoia ran through me. Did he mean to say my name--Denise? Was he calling me? I stood at the window. In the moonlight he pushed the cart down the middle of the street, limping behind it with his shoes in the basket. "Oh moon. Oohhh moooon," he cried, "Thou art woman. And man has walked all over you." Ratso and his cart and his shoes were illuminated, shining in the dark street as I watched from my window. Maybe that was the night of the Super Moon of 1983.
The photo above was taken in Vermont in February of 2009.