You see, the moon and me, we have a history.
Stretched out in the "backity back" cargo section of my parent's small station wagon inherited from their parents that would eventually become my "mystery mazda" more than a decade later, my large green eyes were fixed in wonder on the dark night sky with just a sliver of a moon staring back at me. I resisted sleep as I so often did as a child, fighting my heavy lids in an effort to watch the Cheshire cat smile follow me home. This celestial orb, it seemed, had taken a liking to me and smiled enthusiastically at my resisted slumber. I nodded off during the 4 hour drive between Grandma's house and mine but each time I remembered to fling my eyes open to check on my friend, his smile was still beaming down, encouraging me to stay awake. I felt lucky to have the moon pick me as his special friend.
In the passenger seat I stared listlessly out the window into the empty desert on the quiet drive home. The darkness of those low digit morning hours made everything beyond the reflective mile posts black with little contrast. Bugs danced in the headlights as sage brush, red rocks, joshua trees, tumble weeds and cacti streamed by without shape or form, hidden from view. Tall canyon walls narrowed the possibilities of what lay beyond the darkness but I could summon the images of those impressive red cliffs with little effort as the driver adroitly maneuvered through the sharp curves of the freeway snaking through the canyon.
Long before dawn was due, light appeared unexpectadly on the eastern horizon. As the canyon fell away behind us and the desert opened up its wide expanse before us, the moon rose bright and massive illuminating the shadowy desert all around with an orange glow that felt similar to day. I was caught breathless at the size and color, questioning whether I was awake or asleep, feeling the privilege of such a rare sight even as the moon's out of proportion oversized mass imprinted its image prominently on my soul. It spoke to me just as it had when I was a child whispering - I still choose you.
My oars were finally dipping and rising in a steady rhythm that no longer burned my shoulders and wore out my arms in a handful of strokes, yet I was still moving slowly through the rolling waves of the Pacific. I concentrated on form and kept the other kayakers in view as I dipped my oar to the left and to the right and back to the left again. The clear blue ocean was darker here, further from shore, between a smattering of islands and it was calm, but not flat. Just rolling from my right to my left, gently lifting my kayak up and softly easing it down as the larger waves passed under me.
The sun was setting faster than expected and to my left, Coiba Island's cliffs were dripping in jungle green vines and trees with mangroves separating the land from water. Soon the cliffs were blackened as the sun bid a reluctant farewell with streams of pink and orange contrasted against the silhouetted jungle cliff. It was mesmerizing and exhilerating to be out on the water moving so serenly over this vast ocean in dusky light.
Then, I looked to my right. There, between two verdant lumps of island jungle rose my old friend - full and plump it reluctantly pulled itself up from the water's edge, sending a stream of its reflection across the ocean to greet me. I stopped paddling. Once again, caught breathless by its beauty, feeling singled out by its silvery fingers stretched across the water to touch me. The full moon gained momentum and hauled itself higher and higher into the sky as the sun bowed out with grace and reeled in her color show to give the moon his time.
Once on shore I ditched my kayak with the others and ran along the beach and across the rickety, swaying bridge to where the others stood, mouths agape mesmerized by the moon that had climbed higher in the sky and grown smaller than when it was at my level on the water but was still impressive in its brilliance. Even when shared with others, I feel our relationship is somehow deeper, richer, permanent. Primarily due to that night so long ago when the moon followed me home as a child.