Ramadan Waxing, Ramadan Waning (or, "Life Happening, Part 2")

Last night the moon was full. It willed its pale light across space and through the light pollution and humid maritime haze. I was walking down a dark, quiet street, my weak pallid shadow following me down the pavement. I gazed at the moon. It was crisp despite the sultry night air. A couple of men murmured from the shadows, low and bass-heavy and strangely comforting. There was a clink. They were drinking tea.

Waxing, not waning. Jeddah, 2014.
It is Ramadan in Saudi Arabia. The streets are empty at 8 a.m., 9 a.m., 10 a.m. They are gridlocked at midnight, 1 a.m., 2 a.m. The faithful, and even the less faithful, fast sunrise to sunset. They sleep away the long, hot days and bustle beneath the waxing moon, and then, as Ramadan progresses, beneath the waning moon. You can be jailed for eating or drinking in public during the day. The phone call home from jail would go, "Mom, I'm in the slammer." "What?! Are you doing weed again?" "No, Evian water."

Ramadan is half over, the full moon told me as I walked. In the West we look at our wrists or our phones to know how much life the month has left. And when we look at our wrists or our phones, we also see what time it is, and, while I'm here, I'll open this news app or that social app and, oh no, I don't have enough time to do this or that, to do everything I want to do, or, worse, everything I'm told to do, and I got four emails in the past 20 minutes and I need to read and respond to them, and I can't believe the comments at the bottom of this article about controversial social issue. And by then we've disappeared into virtual reality, only virtually alive.

There is still another half of Ramadan left, the full moon said. It circles solitary and constant across the night, waxing, waning, oh so slowly pulsing. There is something splendid about a calendar in the sky that we look to to pinpoint when we are, because it also reminds us where we are, even who we are as we scurry about down here, moving, hoping motion alone will get us somewhere. Aging. Waning.

Last night the moon was full. Luminous and living. And I watched it glow and I thought how every full moon dies a little each night, fading until it's black as a tomb. But we don't call it a dead moon. We call it a new one.