Earthling to Moon, on News of its Departure

Imagining some awkward breakup conversations inspired by the moon’s inevitable departure from Earth’s gravitational pull.

crescent moon

At first, I didn’t believe it. My gravitational gauge is oversensitive sometimes.  I always think things are closer than they are. For this reason, I avoid parallel parking when possible. (“You’ve got like, three feet! Seriously!” a helpful person will try to explain. “No, no, never mind!” I’ll say, preferring to walk a few more blocks as needed to avoid what looks like a near collision.)

Needless to say, the idea that you’ve been drifting away this whole time comes as a bit of a shock. 

You say it’s “just gravity” but isn’t that sort of like one of those noncommittal statements that really mean a whole other thing (“It’s not you, really, It’s me,” or “I just have a lot going on”)? Isn’t gravity what we had going on? I mean if that’s getting weaker, what are you really saying? 

I know there’s something you’re not saying.  Was it all the photographs? I know, I know. It’s a lot, but you were always changing––color, size, shape; we couldn’t get enough.

Was it how were always projecting our own insecurities, variabilities and hopes onto you? I know it’s a lot: our moods, our energy levels, certain personality traits. 

Wait a minute, now that I think of it, what did you mean when you did that thing at the festival? Well, I know it wasn’t You-you, but c’mon. I mean, that thing with the balloon at the parade? That huge one that looked just like you, with craters and everything? How it broke free and started rolling in the street, remember that?  

I bet you do. People ran after it, but it never came back to the parade. They called it “a mishap” but you planned that, didn’t you? ––As, what, like a hint? Like a sign of things to come? Is this your idea of communicating?

I wasn’t alive when we were supposedly much closer than we are now, but I love the idea: once we needed only a ladder and a willingness to leap, and there we were, scooping cheese from your surface and hurling it back. Thank you, Calvino. I love to imagine the small earthlings, like jellyfish and children floating into you until they are caught by someone on a boat.

Apparently, the same forces drawing you away are slowing our days. We can barely feel this, of course. When does anyone ever feel when this happens, in real time? Once it was four hours from sunrise to night-time, and what were we doing then? 

Just wait, someone tried to say. They called it our honeymoon phase. We laughed. But, I wonder now, how will we explain the totality of what we felt here, when you were close enough to block the whole sun?

Inspired by Marina Koren’s Atlantic article The Moon is Leaving Us. Also, the thought of moon distances shifting inevitably calls to mind Italo Calvino’s wondrous story,  “The Distance of the Moon.”

Author: Stacey C. Johnson

I am here to wonder out loud. The point is not to get a clear answer, a complete picture, but to remember how incomplete the picture is, to embrace the process once again, of discovery, of questions, to notice the stirrings of wonder. To leave crumbs behind, for the next traveler.

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