Promise to the Moon
On a Wednesday night on a visit to the seaside, X. and I decided to take an evening walk on the beach. It was low tide, and there were a lot of tide pools to reflect the very bulbous moon. Without really thinking I said that the moon wanted to see us naked. X. made the point that if we were going to do that, we should have on clothes that would be easy to take off and put on if someone showed up. After briefly flashing the moon, I looked up at her and promised we would appear fully naked another time. On our way back to our designated dune crossing, we heard a woman scream, and then we saw a man walking along the beach coming towards us. Despite it being highly improbable, I became frightened that the man had murdered the screaming woman, and he might come stab us, so I quickened my pace significantly until we were back to the rental house. For some reason, in my paranoid delusions murderers always have knives. In any case, we went to sleep soon after. That night I dreamt that X. and I were naked on the beach under the moon, when shadowy spirits rose up out of the tide pools and danced and cavorted with us. The next day, X. and I went hiking and fell asleep very early that night, so we didn’t go back to the beach to fulfill our plan. I was somewhat concerned that there would be some kind of consequences to not fulfilling our promise to the moon. We assumed that we had missed the full moon. However, back from our trip and settled back in at home on Sunday, we found out that the full moon was actually that night. So we made a quick decision to hike up to the top of a mountain near our town, which has an excellent overlook, and give our plan a try. We had hiked there before, but we decided to drive to a trailhead we had not used before to give us more privacy. At the beginning of the trail, we found a walking stick leaning, which X. decided to use. We hiked up the trail which is only a little over a mile, but at very steep incline and over fairly rough terrain. We saw many mushrooms as we walked up: white, brown, yellow, red, orange, etc. I had a somewhat uneasy feeling on the way up and kept feeling like something invisible was following me because of small noises I would hear in the leaves next to me as I walked. There were other hikers on the mountain that night on a guided tour to see the full moon. We made it up to the top, with all kinds of normal sorts of people chatting about very normal things like the new restaurant in town. But I couldn’t help wondering why all these normal people all felt this desire to gather on the top of a mountain to see the full moon. I don’t think it can be explained away by mere scientific curiosity or outdoorsmanship. It seems like there is some latent admiration for the moon that harkens back to an earlier phase of human/celestial relationships. Meanwhile the nighttime insects were making very intense and loud music. There were storm clouds on the side of the sky that the moon should have been rising. We could see lightning streaking through the clouds quite prettily. Because of the clouds and mist it took some time for the moon to peak through. A little after she made her appearance, the guided group left, and then the others slowly filed away until there was only one man left besides us. I knew he would be trouble when I first laid eyes on him with his neon shorts, tie dye shirt, and massive camera lens. We waited as he took selfies with the moon and various other indignities. Finally I looked up at the moon playfully and thought, “If you get rid of this fool, then we can get on with it.” At that very moment, Mr. Tie Dye got up and started packing away his camera. He left a moment later. X. and I waited a minute to be sure we were alone, then we quickly undressed. We stood for a moment naked with arms raised facing the moon. When the anxiety of being caught got the better of me, I suggested we get dressed again. We started back down the trail with our lantern and flashlight turned on. We stopped to pay a visit to a very aged and imposing tree with a hollow in the middle, where we had gotten in the habit of leaving some small offering, such as a bit of bark or a stone that we had been carrying while we hiked up. The thing we left the time before has always been missing when we have gone back. I left the small, smooth stone I had been rubbing in my pocket on the way up. Then we passed on to another magnificent tree with massive but voluptuously curving boughs. We stopped and turned off our lanterns to contemplate this tree in the moonlight. About ten feet away from the tree is a large stone cairn. There are always signs of rocks being freshly removed from the surrounding landscape, indicating that people pick up stones and add to the pile when they pass by. This also made me think of how these normal, modern people still have this pagan urge to show respect to the tree in this manner. X. and I both added a stone to the pile, then went back to caress a particularly suggestive crevasse low down on the tree’s trunk. We partially flashed the moon one last time, then we headed down the trail with our lights turned on. As we started down the fairly long trail, I began to become irrationally frightened, as I am wont to do. I went in front since I had the flashlight (it is too hard for the person behind to see if the person in front has the lantern). I moved at a fairly quick pace. Our lights made very confusing shadows around us and several times I turned my light to the side to check some imagined danger. One of these times, I missed my footing and twisted my ankle pretty sharply. From that point on, I became convinced that if I took my eyes off the path, I would be punished. Staring at the ground in front of me I moved ever faster, filled with the abject terror of a prey animal. I had an image of the trail map in my head and followed the twisting and turnings as we went. I knew where we needed to turn and what branches to take, but it all felt interminable. I began to be afraid that X. would disappear from behind me and became intent on listening for his steps, fearing every moment that they would go silent. Finally, after what felt like a very long time, we made it to the parking area and drove back to the safety of our burrow, in a very peculiar state of mind.