An Unbidden Promise and a Visit to the River

“Next year,” the words tumbled out. “Next year I will celebrate them, all the full moons.”

We were walking down the main street of Old Town Alexandria, full of Spanish tapas. Crossing before the fountain, lit from below and still crawling with couples and children despite the winter chill, I looked up at the waning moon and felt a pang that I had not, again, done anything for the full moon on Friday night.

Full moons have always been hit or miss with me. With my university Pagan group, we celebrated full moons in ritual but being inside and in the middle of an academic building, it felt hollow and useless. My sophomore year, I remember sitting with a few other Pagans, before my uni Pagan group came to be, and our organizer asking us what we did for full moons. I remember sitting there, shrugging a bit, and answering “Not much.” It has always been my practice to nod graciously, say hello, and gaze at the moon for a time. Full moons tend to get a bad rap, I’ve found. They seem to be more fluffy to mid-grade practitioners, unnecessary to anyone but the newbies. But before I began this crooked, Pagan path, I remember staying up late and watching the moon, feeling its pull, its tug, and remembering the lore I’d picked up on the moon, on Artemis and on Diana, on lunacy and on tidal forces.

So as we crossed before the fountain, I felt the words come unbidden, a promise of next year cross my lips.

We walked through Old Town, down King Street toward the river. The rains of late have flooded the small path of road but the tide had receded, revealing more of the road than when we left, allowing patrons of the Thai restaurant and the Starbucks near the Torpedo Factory to sit outside and enjoy the moonlit river and street. We turned right before the Starbucks and went down to the small park near the river, the sounds of music leading us to water. There, we sat, enjoying the relative quiet on the benches near the river, the only sounds the lapping of the river against the dock, the soft strains of Spanish music from a nearby riverboat, and the callings of bar patrons in the distance.

The Potomac is a wide river, separating Virginia and DC as far as the district goes. I sat on that bench, staring across the water, enjoying the sight of rippling light along its front. Here, close to the ocean, the river is rather still, without the powerful current you can find further inland. We sat for awhile, cuddled on a bench, watching the water with its late night riverboats crossing. I reached out, trying to feel for something in the water, the spirit of the river, but fell short.

For now, it lays quiet, but I hope we can meet someday.

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