And so today’s moment of happiness despite the news.
It seems that when large numbers of people get all het up over watching something, I’m usually on the outside. I never watched Downton Abbey, and in fact, for the longest time, I thought it was Downtown Abbey. I’ve never seen Game of Thrones. I haven’t watched Handmaid’s Tale, although I love Margaret Atwood. Cat’s Eye is my favorite. Usually, if the television is on, it’s set to HGTV. I also guiltily enjoy Say Yes To The Dress, as my daughter is engaged and I am so looking forward to dress-shopping with her. Michael and I, right now, are watching an episode of Grace & Frankie and then an episode of the old Bob Newhart Show every night before bed.
But now there’s watching in real life and I’m watching people getting ready to watch and I’m not planning on joining in.
The solar eclipse.
People are buying special glasses to view the eclipse on Monday. They’re traveling to special places where the view is supposed to be better. Bonnie Tyler is singing “Total Eclipse Of the Heart”. I did a little research and found that the next total eclipse visible from the United States will be in 2024, over parts of Texas and Mexico. The entire eclipse this time is supposed to last for 2 minutes and 40 seconds. And it is supposed to be the worst travel day of the year as people try to drive into places where you can better see it.
Okay. My plan? I’ll glance outside every now and then to see if it’s gotten darker.
I don’t know why I’m not more excited. I should probably remove the “more” from that sentence. I’m not excited at all.
Today, while I was out driving in the convertible, I basked in the sun. I am a sun-lover. There are no window treatments in my home – I don’t want to block the light.
I thought back to the last total eclipse that I can remember. Through research again, it must have been the one on March 7, 1970. I was nine years old, not to turn ten until July. In Minnesota, it was all they talked about in school. And it came fraught with warnings. “If you look up, you’ll go blind! You can’t look up all day, if you do, even for one second, you’ll never see again!” We were taught how to poke a hole in a piece of typing paper and hold it over another piece of typing paper while standing out in the snow with the darkened sun back over our shoulders, and that was supposed to project a safe image for us to watch. This was a Saturday, and on Friday, we were sent home with our dire warnings, two pieces of typing paper, one pin-pricked, and some weird box thing that we made that was also supposed to make viewing safe. I threw my weird box thing away on the way home. My mother wanted the typing paper.
I was totally freaked out. I didn’t want to go blind. I didn’t want the world to go dark in the middle of the day. I didn’t like the dark. What if it stayed dark forever?
The dark. I didn’t like it then. I don’t like it now.
Which is why, on that winter day in 1970, my mother went out in the snow to see if my typing paper worked, and I went down in the basement and stayed there until it was all over. A few names were tossed down the stairs at me, but I didn’t care. I didn’t want to see the sun disappear.
Now, I suppose I can’t say I totally dislike the dark. But the best dark for me is when the moon is bright. My bedroom window allows the light of the moon to fall in, and when it does and adds a silver blanket to my bed, I get my best sleep.
Today, in my car, stopped in line at Starbucks, I closed my eyes and tilted my head back against the seat. The sun turned my eyelids rosy; even my closed eyes didn’t bring the dark. The sun kept it away. The warmth draped over my face and down my neck and chest into my lap. My arms were warmed. And I realized that I don’t have to watch what others are watching. I can sit quietly and wait for the light to return. And this time, I know it will. When it does, I will go out in the convertible, find a sunny place to park, tilt my head up, and bask. Welcome bask, Sun.
I don’t have to hide in a basement to be myself anymore, do I.
And yes, that helps. Despite. Anyway.