There isn’t a ton of upside to waking up at four o’clock in the morning wrecked from an eleven hour time zone shift and a three weeks absence from the office.
Sitting here on the couch of my Hell’s Kitchen living room just now, though, reading an article Steve Martin wrote for The New Yorker (“Through the years,” he writes, “I have learned that there is no harm in charging one’s self up with delusions between moments of valid inspiration”), I noticed a bright, white light out of the corner of my eye.
At first I thought it was a spotlight searching the sky above the Hudson. And then I realized that it was the moon.
Just over two weeks ago, Abbi and I woke to the sun rising over Tehran, Iran, from our 36,000 window seat and it dawned on us for the first time that we were really on our honeymoon.
“I can’t believe I’ve been planning this trip for six months,” I said, “And I don’t even know the meaning of the word at all.”
The Oxford English Dictionary offers no etymology for “honeymoon,” but dates the word back to the 16th century:
“The first month after marriage, when there is nothing but tenderness and pleasure” (Samuel Johnson); originally having no reference to the period of a month, but comparing the mutual affection of newly-married persons to the changing moon which is no sooner full than it begins to wane; now, usually, the holiday spent together by a newly-married couple, before settling down at home
According to Wikipedia, the first literary reference to the honeymoon was penned in 1552, in Richard Huloet’s “Abecedarium Anglico Latinum.” Huleot writes:
“Hony mone, a term proverbially applied to such as be newly married, which will not fall out at the first, but th’one loveth the other at the beginning excedingly, the likelyhood of their exceadinge love appearing to aswage, ye which time the vulgar people call the hony mone.”
Huleot suggestion, then, was that new love waned like the phases of the moon, which stands to reason for any fan of Jackie Gleason, Carroll O’Connor, or Kevin James. Course, I’m more of a Bill Cosby guy myself.
Though the sky was filled with billowing cumulus clouds during much of our wedding reception, the first few hours of our marriage were punctuated by appearances from a waning, sliver moon.
By the time we landed in Male, Maldives, though, the moon was new. That is, the night sky was crowded with stars and the guazy film of the Milky Way, but no moon. All the better to spot shooting stars, we thought.
Abbi is asleep now. In just under an hour, her alarm will sound, and I’ll bound down the hall, jump into bed, and talk her ear off like an excited school boy.
Huloet didn’t know what he was talking about.
Our moon is still waxing.