Right now I’m staying in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico, which, according to legend, sits on a bed of crystals. The hippie gringos who live here believe that San Miguel is such an amazing and magical place because these crystals attract energy and life force and whatnot… You can see by my use of the word whatnot that I am somewhat unconvinced.
Last week I went to a party populated by many such hippie gringos. It was the night of the full moon, and everyone talked about how this was affecting our energies. I felt pretty normal, though. I drank some organic wine and danced to a funk band and went home fairly early.
I was sleeping soundly, as I normally do, when all of a sudden, at 3:30 in the morning, I woke with a jolt. I felt restless in my own body, agitated. I tossed and turned until I heard the church bells chime four a.m., but I could not fall back asleep. I was bizarrely awake and full of (dare I say it?) energy.
In the morning, I chalked it up to too much wine, or sleeping in a different bed. Except that my housemate, a photographer named Marico, mentioned waking up suddenly and bizarrely at four a.m. and not being able to go back to sleep.
“Really? That exact same thing happened to me,” I said. “I wonder if it had to do with the full moon.” Not that the moon had been bright enough to wake us or anything. It had been covered by clouds all night, plus I’d had my curtains shut tight. I was thinking of something more mysterious and magical: the pregnant moon calling out to us, pulling us from our slumbers like it pulls the ocean tides.
Later, I was talking to my husband on Skype, telling him about my middle-of-the-night wakening. My other housemate, a writer named David, overheard me. “Sorry to interrupt,” he said. “But that happened to me last night, too.”
“Oh my god, really? There must have been something going on! The full moon, or maybe there’s a ghost in the house.”
I turned to Paul on the computer screen. “Did you wake up suddenly in the night?”
“Yeah, at like three-thirty.”
I gasped. “Oh my god! See?”
“But I don’t think it was because of the full moon. I mean, I went to bed at eleven-thirty, so three-thirty is like two sleep cycles for me, and it’s pretty normal to wake up at the end of a sleep cycle.”
“Oh, don’t be a party pooper,” I told him. “I still think it was the the full moon!”
The next day, I went to a yoga class led by a hippie gringo named Fabienne. She was full of opinions about how the moon and celestial bodies were affecting us. “Now is a time of intense energy and upheaval,” she said. “The moon is pulling on us, taking us for a ride. It’s resetting us. It’s rewiring us here.” She pointed to her head. “It’s replumbing us here.” She placed a hand on her belly. “I haven’t had a good poop in a month.”
I wasn’t sure that was the moon’s fault. Still, I asked her about the bizarre way my housemates and I had all woken up at the same time on the night of the full moon.
“Oh yes,” she said. “That happened to me, too. The moon was just like, pow, and I was wide awake and surging with energy.”
There was the confirmation of my theory. Of course, Fabienne also told us that right now our bodies are becoming more crystalline, and that we need to breathe in the colors that the universe gives us, and that earlier that morning she had been doing child’s pose on her kitchen floor because she “got a little turned around.”
So who to believe? My scientist husband who thinks it was just a coincidence, or Fabienne the yoga instructor, who has been “breathing in a lot of red lately.”
In the end, it doesn’t really matter to me what’s true. The idea of the full moon having some kind of power over me and my housemates is mysterious and exciting. It makes for a good story, and that’s why I like it.
Tomorrow in my fiction class I hope to talk briefly about fiction based on real events — which is what several of my students are writing. It can be hard sometimes to let go of the facts. You want to tell the events in the order they really happened. You want to make the characters say what they really said and do what they really did. But if you’re not careful, this can make for a story that is boring, or, somehow, unbelievable despite the fact that it’s true. We fiction writers need to worry less about the truth and more about what makes the best story.
It seems to me that a lot of the people who live in San Miguel don’t really believe that it’s sitting on a bed of energy-attracting crystals. But they like to say this anyway. Because it makes for a good story.