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I step outside onto the street, it’s mid-winter and I’ve grown tired of the relentless cold of the city, tonight it’s cooler, the wind bites at my ankles and I am knocked breathless by the outside air. I see the sidewalk shining grey, I can hear the steady clacking of my shoes on the pavement, I round a corner and there it is.

There I stand looking up, entirely transfixed. The city is still too, as if it held its breath just for a moment, just to look up at our celestial neighbor glowing brilliantly with some otherworldly warmth. The keeper of the tides, I know it will hide again in just a few days, but I have been watching it creep out from the darkness sliver by silver sliver each day, holding my breath each night, waiting for the night when it bursts forth in stark relief from the inky abyss of the winter sky and radiantly peers down at us with a calm smile, pockmarked by craters.

The moon. Once a part of our volatile planet, after the big bang sent a seemingly infinite number of space particles spinning through the air, after static electricity pulled them together, turning particles to rocks to planetessimals, Earth was one of the largest planetessimals, a singular particle that, through some great coincidence attracted just enough particles to attract just enough surrounding rocks to attract just enough planettessimals. Until one day (although it wasn’t really one day was it? It must have been one moment, or perhaps an instance--but who can really be sure? Time wasn’t so well-packaged in those days...) another planetessimal collided at some great speed into our proto-earth, just at the right angle. Just enough to send the young outer layer of our earth spinning wildly into the surrounding atmosphere-- just enough to create our moon.

Perhaps my lunar infatuation comes from my name. Perhaps if my Quaker ancestors in Snow Camp, North Carolina hadn’t given their children the names of characters in Greek mythology, I would have had a different name--perhaps I would have been amazed and fascinated by some other object on the street. Perhaps I would be a Felicity or a Faith or a Grace. But at just the right moment, as my mother was in the delivery room, waiting for me to be born, perhaps my dad thought of a time when he was younger, in North Carolina with his grandmother, Phoebe, waiting for her to finish frying bacon and grits for breakfast. Perhaps he thought about her funeral, how she had passed away leaving only memories and children behind. Perhaps he had thought about this and had realized that one day he would have to have a funeral much like hers, perhaps he thought that if he named his child after her, he too might one day be preserved in memory through the names of his posterity. Perhaps this all lined up as he suggested the name to my mother in the delivery room. Phoebe. One of the Titan goddesses of Greek mythology, grandmother of Phoebus Apollo, she was often associated with the moon. The first keeper of the lunar keys.

Perhaps if Phoebe and I were walking down the same city street on the very same night, we might stop to look up at the moon, we might see each other briefly and smile and nod out of courtesy and walk our separate ways. We would know that the moon is merely our neighbor, perhaps our long lost cousin. It is little more than a missing piece that we lost long ago, that now looks down upon us benevolently. Yet in spite of this, or perhaps because of it, we would know that earthly organisms are consistently captivated by it. It has hypnotized our oceans, bestowing upon them the tides that ocean life has adjusted to. It has connected us to what we left behind in the past, it is the unchanging feature that we can depend on in a world that spins out of our control all too often. We would know the magnetic forces of earth were keeping us pragmatically tethered to the sidewalk. But as we walked away from our spots where we had been so entranced, we would feel the gentle tug of a moon that has kept us staring into the abyss, dreaming and we would smile, knowing exactly what the other had been gazing at.



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Deej6595 said...
Nov. 16, 2013 at 7:35 pm:
I love this story especially the whole last paragraph that you were describing the connection of the moon with your grandmother. I can relate to the connection you have with your own grandmother. I have a coonection wih my grandfather. That I can't really talk about it in a short amount of time. I have written about him before though.  To wrap up though, I will say that The moon is  nice topic to talk about. It is a very mystical and pwerful force. I am glad that you wrote this.
 
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