Moon Shadows

When I listened to radio songs as a preteen, I wasn’t just groovin’ to tunes and spacing out. I was always creating stories from those songs.

Case in point: Cat Stevens’ “Moonshadow.”

After lamenting the possible loss of hands, eyes, legs, teeth—you name it—the songwriter directly confronts the object that’s been pursuing him, and this intrigued me. The shadow has always been there, but it’s like he’s seeing it for the first time.

And why had it been searching for him? Did he know of it beforehand and never thought to address it directly?

Its skippy-trippy, nursery rhyme, sing-songy verses yield to one power-packing bridge: “Did it take long to find me? I asked the faithful light. Oh, did it take long to find me, and are you gonna stay the night?” The sleepover invitation fascinated this young teen. What happened, exactly? Did they stay up and talk all night or…? I was clueless.

Early February 1978, I was followed by a moon shadow.

It started when Steve and I took Skeeze’s lead and hit the Gravel Pits on Thursday, Feb. 9. In the days leading up to Valentine’s Day, we had been pining over our “true loves,”—for Steve it was Sara; me, Kim. I’d finally broken it off with Stephanie, not even talking to her at the occasional Super Sam’s employee meetings.

And there was someone new on my romance radar, a lovely sophomore brunette named Karen Brethorst. Her friend Kathy and I worked on sculpture projects in Art class, so I often asked her about Karen. Seems Karen, who had sultry looks and ample breasts, had a boyfriend at Orono High. But I was getting vibes that things were not always good between them.

The day after Steve and I visited the Gravel Pits, I went to Ridgedale to pick up my Sam’s paycheck. There I ran into both Stephanie and her friend Kim—and Kathy with Karen. Awkward.

I split off with Kathy and Karen, even giving them a ride back to Mound in the Dartillac, Mom’s Dodge Dart. It seemed that day was so important I stapled an addendum—written in black ink on both sides of the paper—to the diary entry.

One line leapt out at me: “Karen stood under the moon once and—thinking about the Gravel Pits—it really freaked me out for a second.”

I’d hoped to ask Karen to the varsity basketball game that night. She sat next to me on the ride back.

Reading the diary entry has led to this thought, one expressed in an earlier post, and something along the lines of the moon-shadow-following theme: Things weren’t real until I’d committed them to paper and, when you decide to turn and face that which you thought you were chasing (which is now following you), amazing things tend to happen. It’s like I’d built my own religion out of exurban construction sites and quasi-pagan lunar rituals.

And Mr. Blaine was totally right. My heart was all over the place.

I was dissing Stephanie in the diary while over-praising Kim and chasing after … Karen.

I was one hot mess.

The proof came Valentine’s Day, which fell on a Tuesday in ’78. “I got away with kissing a lot of girls,” I wrote—five, in fact, over the course of the school day. “It was an active day and everyone was dressed in red, or they just looked nice.” However none of the girls I kissed were Karen, Kim, Sonya or anyone I’d previously dated. I was, officially, an indiscriminate male slut.

So that moon shadow, following along, constant, spending the night … what about it? Maybe it wasn’t about connecting with a girl.

Maybe it was about learning a new language and preparing to travel abroad.

Maybe it was about learning to play a song at the forthcoming high school talent show.

Or maybe it was about learning who you really are on the inside.

~ by completelyinthedark on November 23, 2012.

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