Sounding like Goethe on his deathbed, I handed the contractor the blueprints for what would become Sandhill and instructed, “Light, that’s what I want — as much as possible.”
So, the windows were broadened and lengthened in order not simply to permit but invite as much light as possible into the rooms. With the serendipity of a southern orientation came sunrise through the bedroom windows and sunset through all the others.
I soon discovered that it wasn’t only sunlight that welcomed itself into Sandhill through all those windows, but moonlight as well. Each month, in the week the moon waxed toward full, I would go to bed each night under a slightly more silver glow, and when the sphere of reflected light reached perfect roundness, the whole room shimmered. It was as though the pillows, the sheets, the comforter all had been sprinkled with sequins, as though a handful of stardust had slid down the moonbeams and scattered itself across the furniture.
Sometimes the light was liquid and poured through the panes like water from a jug or over a sluice or through a funnel, puddling on the floor and the bed linens in wading pools of pale illumination. I would lie there and listen to the silence, as full and content as the moon, and my next conscious thought would be morning.
For 15 years, there was not so much as a valance adorning any of the windows. I loved the sun’s play of bright and brighter overlapping each other on the floors, the strangely angled shadows projected onto the walls. I was constantly amazed that Old Linen, the paint color I’d chosen for every room, could look so completely different from morning to afternoon, from hallway to kitchen, from spring to fall.
The nakedness of my windows was both frightening and embarrassing to Grannie, who finally asked me one day, “Aren’t you afraid somebody might be able to see in?”
To which I responded, “If they come this far, they deserve to see something.”
She was not amused.
About eight years ago, in the aftermath of three bumper car hurricanes that brought enough rain inland to require rather significant repairs, I put up blinds — wide slatted ones, easy to open so that I might maintain my this-is-freedom-not-vulnerability stance but equally easy to close in order to seal off, block out, hide from view what I’d finally admitted in what passed for adulthood could be frightening, dangerous or, at least, uncomfortable.
The result has been plenty of nights, many nights, most nights when I couldn’t have said whether the moon was waxing or waning or whether it was in fact outside my bedroom window at all.
Last week — and I can’t say exactly why last week was different — when the moon was full, when the sky was cloudless, when the memory of moonlight shining through my window sprang up like a craving, I turned off the lamp and opened the blinds. I got into bed and lay very still, waiting to feel the shimmer, waiting to hear the silence.
Across the room, on top of the chest of drawers, I could make out the silhouettes of photos, books, an hourglass; people, words, time. Their sharp edges were softened in the pale moon breath, dulled beyond any capacity to worry or wound. I had forgotten what moonlight can do to edges. I had forgotten what moonlight does to me.