March 11, 2008

Polly Miller Ranch Road, Night

If you happened to be driving around the Texas hill country tonight you would have seen a huge waxing crescent of a moon hanging low in the sky. It was painted blood orange and loomed ever larger as it fell. I stopped on a particularly dark stretch of road, got out of the car, and communed in the darkness. With my hands in my pockets I spent fifteen minutes watching the moon slide below the horizon. I won't talk about how beautiful the scene was, because beauty is so difficult to telegraph but I can tell you how it made me feel.

Thirty minutes earlier I had been on a bus and I was full of that all over bone-tiredness unique to night time bus and car rides amplified by a slight chill and damp. I told my fellow bus riders that being a little cold, a little damp, very tired (and on a bus) made me remember the childhood versions of those feelings as well as the ones that inevitably followed—those of being lifted from the car, of being carried through the night and into the house, and being tucked into bed by my parents. Now that I am a parent who ferries his small children to bed after long trips I get some of that feeling back as I carry them. It's one of those strange parental feedback loops in which you simultaneously a) feel what your kid is feeling, b) are flooded with intense childhood memory, and c) feel what your parent must have felt when they were holding you. So I was looking at the moon thinking of all of that.

Simultaneous to those thoughts, I was remembering a time when I was 16 or 17 when I stopped on the same road to watch a new moon rise over the same hills. I remember thinking then that I hoped I would always be the type of person who would drive out to the middle of nowhere, stop his car, and look at the moon. At sixteen I imagined some future version of myself doing just that. The sixteen year old self was hoping I could share the view with a girl rather than imagining putting children to bed. But my adult self was recalling how my wife and I, after putting the children to bed, sit on the couch under a blanket and talk and how sometimes we fall asleep ourselves and how nice that is and how someday perhaps when the kids are older we'll miss doing that.

Back then I remember hoping for a shooting star. None ever came. None came tonight either. Maybe next time.

posted at 04:09 AM by raul

Filed under: night musings

TAGS: being carried (1) bus rides (1) feedback loops (1) hill country (1) moon (4) texas (8)

Comments:

03/11/08 01:30 PM

I saw that same moon between tall buildings in Austin yesterday. Surreal in its size and beauty. I remember seeing the same giant, blood orange orb once as a child in East Texas; it seems impossibly big in memory, but I keep hoping I'll see another like it.

03/11/08 09:01 PM

I live in Texas and I missed the moon you speak of but can nevertheless picture it thanks to your words. I particularly liked how you linked yourself in time through the one repeated act. Some old memories have that loop-back effect or perhaps, it is loop-forward depending on where you stand. Whatever it is, I now look outside my window, see the last rays of the sun disappear in a wash of indigo blue... now black and I too, dig up some full-circle memories tied to just such another closing, on a different day. Your post has triggered a sweet little playback in my head. Thank you for that.

03/11/08 10:44 PM

It was indeed a strange, sleepy night. The strangeness no doubt accentuated by the curious moon and the weird dampness in the air.

However, it was great meeting you at the conference ... and hopefully we'll cross paths again, whether Texas or Manhattan or New Jersey.

04/10/08 03:22 PM

I just found your website today and am soaking up all the beauty you provide here. Thank you.

I, too, live in Texas and missed this moon but your musings reminded me of one of my favorite short stories, by EB White, posted here:

http://www.moonstar.com/~acpjr/Blackboard/Common/Essays/OnceLake.html

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