The holy full moon rose last night in all her shining glory. I saw her peeking triumphant through the trees, but was too tired to walk to an open spot where I could enjoy a full view. I had barely enough energy to follow the dogs in the creek bed, and missed the magic of her first appearance. But a little later, after settling the pack in our den and resting with my legs up the wall, I felt an uncontrollable urge to finish the cleaning started earlier in the day. It’s been like this every full moon as far back as I can remember . . . my feminine spirit wants to clean and feather her nest.
I was all out of dog and cat food anyway, so I justified a slow drive out of the river bottom on this holy night for the mundane task of shopping at Vons for cleaning supplies—which normally can wait. In my ideal universe, commerce would stop on the full moon. Time would stand still. We’d all be transported out of our earthly concerns. Crime would stop. Sins would be forgiven. It would be a night of love and pleasure for those so inclined. Or a night of prayer, meditation, magic potions, yoga, dancing . . . whatever might attract us as we move through the stages of life. At the very least, all humans would stand in awe and bask in the moon’s light, as we surely would if this were a once-in-a-lifetime happening.
Every month, the cycles of the moon remind us that we are in this world but not of it. That we are part of nature, and transient passengers on Planet Earth . . . All this was in my mind as I stared at the moon’s bright yellow orb, all the more dramatic when seen from the Vons parking lot. Before heading inside, I attuned to the moon (at least I imagined I did) and felt the fatigue of the day start to dissipate.
The funny thing was that I then became aware of a banjo playing. Live music at Vons? Yes, a lovely young free spirit was sitting on a stool near one entrance and playing, as shoppers dropped dollars and coins into a basket on the ground. The sight of her was so natural and friendly, so humanizing; it gave me the feeling of being in a foreign country. “Really,” I told myself, “the main difference between Vons and the colorful bazaars and open markets of India or Africa is the packaging and the obscene amount of choices.” But the young mother and father with the newborn in the baby carrier, and all the working parents with their young children, were essentially the same, struggling to survive.
The cold interior climate felt energizing, and I quickly filled my cart. The KeVita lemon ginger sparkling probiotic was on sale. Each time I go there it seems there are more “green” products, like the liquid laundry detergent packaged in a recycled-cardboard compostable pack. No plastic! Safe for our greywater system. As I stood engrossed in reading labels, I suddenly heard a familiar laughing voice say, “Wake up!” It was Dvorahji herself, one of the many people whose calls I haven’t returned, so here was our golden opportunity to chat.
Snoop that I am, I noticed that her cart was shamelessly loaded up with KETTLE brand potato chips! I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve stared at those bags, wanting to buy one, but the ascetic in me won’t allow it. But if someone as enlightened as Dvorahji buys a dozen bags, surely I can have one!
“Where are they?” I interrupted our conversation about the plight of homeless dogs and why we need a No-Kill Director. She pointed me in the right direction. There were at least six kinds, so I read all the labels. “Why have I been depriving myself?” I silently asked. According to the label, these were non-GMO, all natural, all organic, made with the finest natural ingredients. I grabbed the honey dijon flavor and made my way to the checkout stand without further ado.
The checker was a friendly woman I’ve known for many years. It was after 9 p.m., and here she was, probably in her mid-sixties, like me, working away, standing on her tired feet, being so cheerful with every customer, reminding me how to slide in my Vons member card, and ringing up every item without any mistakes. I smiled and thanked her—the least I could do.
On the way out, I dropped a dollar in the banjo player’s basket. I hope she is well-received wherever she plays. Our world needs more street musicians.
The moonlit landscape was so bright I never turned on the extra-bright headlights. After being car-free for many years, having a car in which to go shopping spontaneously is still a novelty. I stopped to check on my parents—just a quick peek through the window. My mom sat in her bright sundress, reading her Dutch newspaper. My dad was eating alone in the kitchen. In their old age they’ve metamorphosed into a couple of night owls.
I cruised downhill into the black river bottom. The moon was now high in the sky. I’d lost my will to keep on cleaning, but I unpacked the cloth bags and hoisted the kitty litter out of the trunk. The cleaning supplies still stood at the ready.
It’s all too much, this hustling to pay the bills, feed the beasts, clean the den . . . but now came the good part of living alone. Every few months for many years, my lifelong friend Karen has brought me piles of amazing books that she finds at garage sales and used-book stores. In the morning, as I was running off to teach, she had handed me a fresh stash, so six new memoirs sat waiting on the bed. One, Atomic Fragments: A Daughter’s Questions, is by an Ojai woman, Mary Palevsky, and is about (I gather) her parent’s involvement in the creation of nuclear weapons. Just reading the back covers allows me to see my life from an ever broader, more cosmic perspective.
My cats were already nestled deep in the comforter. I tore open my bag of honey dijon potato chips, so crisp, so tasty. I’m happy to confess that by midnight I’d eaten almost the whole bag. I read and read. No one cared when crumbs fell on the sheets. I was twelve years old again, and this time no one told me when it was time to go to sleep . . .
Photo Credit: Michelle Lopez-Dohrn