I looked again, the golden orb slowly climbing into the night sky, drowned by the distraction of streetlights and lit windows. The park would be dark. It would be more visible there. He smiled, knowing how I adore the moon. "I'll go with you." He grabbed his flannel (the evenings have that lovely nip now), and my inspiration evolved and expanded as I rounded up the befuddled kids. And the dog.
A few minutes later, the six of us -- and our little dog, too -- were padding our way quietly down the sidewalk toward the neighborhood park. We approached the entrance, hushed and expectant. It was completely, eerily dark, save that golden sphere, suspended majestically in the eastern sky.
The kids were tempted to play because, well, that's what one does at the park. But when it's pitch black, one looks at the moon instead. A good trade. We gazed in stillness for a bit and eventually found ourselves sitting in a row on the footbridge.
As we admired the golden coin and the vast, limitless expanse overhead, I thought of the many other golden coins I'd collected over the years. Moons and moons worth of memories and moments spanning just about thirty-nine years now, each one saved, tucked away in my pocket. I felt the richness of it.
* * * * *
Earlier this week when Jamie and I had our Sunday date night, we decided it would be fun to watch You've Got Mail. It had been years since we'd seen it, and it just seemed like a perfect "welcome fall" kind of movie. Bouquets of sharpened pencils, "don't you love New York in the fall," and so on.
It was delightful to revisit the familiar classic, but I wasn't prepared for the flood of nostalgia that would come with it. When we first saw the movie, it was in the theater. (We ran into our dear friends, Jason and Tobi.) The year? 1998. Drew -- our sixteen-year-old -- was a wee babe.
There were numerous scenes that I found myself watching with different eyes this time around. My favorite aha moment? When Kathleen Kelly recommends the series of books to Annabelle in the book store. You see, the 1998 Julianna didn't know about Betsy and Tacy. But the 2014 Julianna has two daughters who've read and loved the Betsy Tacy stories. (In fact Bethie and I just plowed our way through Betsy's first high school book this summer -- what a lovely lark.) I felt rather tingly and misty-eyed over it all.
As we watched Joe and Kathleen fall in love once again, those years of memories -- gold coins of experience and understanding and relationships -- added a fullness to the evening. And yes, I felt the richness of it.
* * * * *
We lined the footbridge, no one really wanting to be the one to say, "We should probably go home. It's a school night." But it happened anyway. We came to our feet, glanced back at the moon, and slowly made our way down the street.
As we did so, my mind wandered back to another, very similar golden moment. I gathered my girls close, walked more slowly, and shared about the time my Nanee and I had gazed upon a harvest moon in that very same neighborhood, the time we gathered a very similar gold coin. I was about Bethie's age. Hand in hand, my grandmother and I had walked in the stillness of the night, the moon so low on the horizon that it was unnaturally large, tinged just the color of the changing birch leaves. Squeezing my hand, she said, "Juni, we'll always remember this night."
She was right.
Our family of six -- and our little dog, too -- approached the welcome glow of our own front porch. I was content to follow in the wake of my husband and children, contemplative and quiet. Entering the warmth of home, I closed the door softly behind us, another gold coin in my pocket.