Fall came early this year. Some say fall begins on September 21st. Some say Labor Day. Geen told me that a colleague said fall begins when the State Fair is in town. The Fair started Friday night. We missed the State Fair Parade yesterday. Fall came the week R was here during “summer vacation,” the third week of August.
It was hot while he was here. But it was cool enough one night that we wore sweatshirts when we sat on our plastic lawn chairs and talked while we looked up at the sky. I saw a shooting star. Weeks earlier, when the suegros were here, suegra went outside a few nights when she couldn’t sleep. She saw bunches of falling stars, she said. I was happy for my one.
Two weeks ago, Geen was working on a paper and I got on the phone with my friend Tanya. I went outside to chat--partly because of our house’s bad reception and partly because my volume increases greatly when I’m yakking. She needs near silence to work.
I eased myself onto the hammock that a former co-worker gave Geen. It felt like my first time sitting on it all summer. I just laid back and watched the sky. The clouds hid the moon. Or tried to. Her light broke through here and there, but she didn’t have a chance.
About 9 that night, the air was still warm enough that I didn’t need a jacket though I thought it might rain because of the overcast sky. Slowly, the clouds morphed and separated. I would get caught up in my conversation then see the sky anew.
When the moon was revealed, she was—a word I don’t often use—awesome. I could see the shed, the hose, the plastic lawn chairs, the old crate full of empty plant pots. It was night, but it wasn’t dark. Okay, it was kind of dark, but it wasn’t dark. Yes, it was like someone had turned on a light in the room and the room was earth.
I thought of the Astronomy course I took in community college. I got an A, but what did I remember? I thought of runaway slaves and how they must have loved and hated bright nights. I imagine that they could travel north more easily, but the slavecatchers could find them more easily. I thought of Aztec moon goddess Coyolxauqui. So powerful she had to be brought down.
I finished my conversation with Tanya and came back in the house. Geen finished her paper. Carefully and slowly, one by one, we went out and sat on the hammock together. We wrapped our bodies around each other and shared where our minds had been the past few hours. Then we watched the moon climb and separate herself from the other bodies in the sky.
We wondered about the sun. If the moon was this bright at 11 o’clock at night…And the other stars? We overwhelmed ourselves with thoughts of the heavens. After our questions tired us, we came inside. Geen raised the blind in the bedroom. We saw her at her highest point, wished each other a good night, and let her watch over us…Then Geen lowered the blind so the sun wouldn’t wake us too early.
I wish I noticed the sky more when I was home. When I lived in San Francisco, my eyes were much more focused on concrete—not wanting to step into a mess, not wanting to attract the attention of the wrong person. I tell myself that when— if?—we move back to California, I’m going to look at things, especially the sky, more. I’m going to notice. I’m going to remember.