Slivered Yellow Moon (Just Write)

Tonight I saw a slivered yellow moon against a black sky. I wanted to stare at it for hours, and I might have if it weren't for the groceries in the back of the car and the constant compulsion to conform to social norms, one of which being that a late-30s mom isn't allowed to gawk at the moon for hours on end.

It's just that this was the same slivered yellow moon I watched rise half my life ago over a small lake in the Sierras. It was the last week of camp, and we staffers had just come from a party celebrating the end of the season. None of us seemed ready to say this was the end, so we built a fire and spread sleeping bags over the small stretch of the beach. We walked right into the cliche of scary stories and hysterical laughter over inside jokes that weren't nearly as funny and unforgettable as they felt that night.  Whenever there was a lull in the crackling of the fire, I heard the lapping of the lake against the shore.

We took turns talking until it was too late, and one by one everyone nodded off.

Except for me.

I couldn't sleep that night, and I have no idea why not, but I've never been so glad for insomnia. I watched the moon and its rippling reflection rise from the horizon of the lake to the top of the sky, and then I watched it fade into the sunrise before I fell asleep for a few hours underneath the morning light.

I woke up with a stiff ache in my neck and a dull ache for which I had no name. Now I know to call it nostalgia, this wishing to float back into previous scenes, all the while hurtling forward instead. 

I didn't want to leave camp and its chronic scent of bug spray. I didn't want to stop breathing the smokiest fresh air you'll ever taste. I didn't want to let go of the waking up with dew on my hair, the lapping sound of the lake, this slivered yellow moon.


I drove home from the grocery store, scanning the sky to glimpse the moon through the windshield; and when it came into view again, I started to cry. I felt pathetic, like here I go again into this weak and skinless melancholy, hung up on a moon that takes me back two decades. But if I'm going to err (and I very obviously am), I suppose I'd rather it be from feeling too much and not too little.

The truth is, I am happy now, as happy as I've ever been. But that doesn't stop me from wishing I could skip back nineteen summers and spend another night under the spell of that slivered yellow moon.

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