In the sudden switch from sleep to wakefulness, I can't work out what's woken me or why. It's as though someone has come into the room and thoughtlessly turned on the light. Philip is still there beside me, and there's no sign of recent movement, but across his face and pillow there is indeed a light; a clear bright beam, falling on him like a spotlight from the sky.
A strange and unexpected alignment of cloudless sky, leaf-bared trees and the lunar cycle, has brought the full moon through our open curtains and into the bedroom. Drawn to it, I stand at the window looking out, thinking of all the clichés that have ever been penned about moonlight, my sleep-dulled brain unable to come up with any new words to describe the silver glow lighting up our room, shining magically outside.
It's bright enough to see along the row of gardens that back the houses of our street; to pick out the sheds and greenhouses, washing lines and compost bins. It's the same garden furniture I see every time I look out, but tonight it's lost some of its ugly practicality, swept by a glistening shimmer. For a moment I wonder if this is what it would be like if giant slugs had crept across the land while we slept.
I stand and gaze, and as I do, the view in front of me is replaced by a series of other gardens, looked at from other windows. I'm back leaning on the tiled window-sill of my childhood bedroom in Croxted Road, peering through the net curtains and the steel-framed windows that were covered in condensation every morning of the year. I remember the story that I used to tell my friends to explain the small scar on my forehead; the story where I fell out of the window and somehow miraculously survived, not the real one where I climbed up to watch my Dad in the garden, slipped and caught my head on the corner of a cupboard. Or at least that's the story I think is real.
Then I'm looking out over the flat pitched roof of the dining room extension in Manor Way, past the spot in the flower bed where Megan would sit chatting to Ruth next door, as they swapped mud pies through holes in the fence; past the hedges and the shrubs that I clipped and pruned year after year, down to the bottom of the garden, where the green swing sits, just as it should for every child.
I'm whisked forward in time to the bedroom window in Crown Road, to see Martin, our overweight cat, teetering along the top of the garden fence, making his way to our neighbours' bird table to sit hunched up like a fat furry turkey on a plate. Beyond the fence is the old orchard, where the overgrown grass and ancient trees strain to face another year, hoping once again to defy the latest in a long list of planning applications to fill their space with a row of houses.
I stand remembering, until I realise that the light is getting brighter, no longer from the moon but the start of a new day. I think about the hours I've spent staring out of bedroom windows at a series of gardens and neighbourhoods and I realise I've almost always slept at the back of the house. Hardly ever has my view been of street lights and front doors, of passing cars, or concrete paths. My first glimpse and last look at the outside world each day has been the world of grass and trees, of home and family.
I take one last look at the sky before going to make my first cup of tea of the day. Sometimes we try so hard to reach the moon, when all we really need to do is stop and see.