Sorry about the lack of posting on Monday! I went out of town!
And here’s why.
We’ve been planning this for months. My family, or at least my family minus one brother (sorry, bro), packed its bags, filled up the cars, and drove away. We went through the rest of Ohio, weaved our way through West Virginia, careened through Kentucky, and found ourselves in Tennessee. One and a half days of driving, and we found ourselves in a tiny, relatively unknown lodge up on an Appalachian Mountain.
We drove up a windy wooded road, the car curving and twisting. On one side, the mountain drops off, a cliffside in the forest, tall pine trees here and there reaching up into a shadowy canopy above us. The other side, the hill reaches up and up, the same deep, snug wood making the light twinkle gently on the forest ground.
Reaching the lodge, a big, beautiful stone building stretching out with hotel-like rooms on either side. We, however, find ourselves in a small, two-bedroom cottage, somehow the perfect size for our short weekend visit.
Swimming, walking, hiking, and ziplining fill our weekend. And then, the Monday morning sun broke through the trees, and that’s when we started off.
Two hours later, we peel off the highway to a tiny town, and the excitement builds in our stomachs as we see people, standing on sidewalks and holding signs, offering premium parking spots and glasses.
Filing into a local park, where people already sit out on chairs and blankets.
After we set up, we wait.
We had come two hours early. It had to have been at least 85 degrees out.
But it was worth it.
We drove for eight hours and sat in the heat for two for two minutes of totality for the 2017 solar eclipse.
As my parents pointed out, some things like this, you hear about, but you can’t help but think it cannot lives up to the hype. Or, more often, phenomena or events are so much more disappointing than you think it’ll be.
We stood on a random soccer field in the middle of Tennessee with a bunch of strangers, looking up at the sky as the moon passed in front of the sun. Looking around, groups of people gathered with each other, families and groups of friends and groups of students, probably around fifty people in the close area.
As totality hit (meaning that the moon was exactly in front of the sun, as opposed to the time the moon creeps in front for, like, forever), the first thing we noticed was that the cicadas began to chirp, mistakenly thinking evening was coming. Then, it was like someone was slowly turning the dimming light switch on the world, but much faster than I thought. The world faded into sepia tones, orange glowing and the blue of the sky turning darker and darker. Shadows elongated, and twilight fell over the world.
The moon, officially, stood herself right in front of the sun.
And, everyone cheered.
Each person out on that soccer field peered up into space (with the special glasses, of course), at an amazing scientific phenomenon, at pure magic working itself on our world, and they laughed and wooed and clapped. A singular, unique, crazy natural event that really shouldn’t actually happen united us, in awe and amazement and pure human joy.
Personally, something about space just fascinates me. I love the concept of there being more out there than we think, crazy and wonderful and amazing things. The idea of new things to discover and incredible adventures to live through inspires and excites me, as a writer and as a person.
I can’t help but marvel how interesting that is, that we as a race find quirky, interesting, scientific events, and we find a way to stare at it. We take off work, we gather our families, we drive eight hours and make a weekend trip, and we look at something fascinating and cool.
I had asked my dad in a moment of concern if my outdoor cat, who we had left at home, would be okay during the eclipse. I had a sinking feeling that we might get back home and find her blind, or at least partially. He reassured me that animals wouldn’t just look up at the sun; every day they don’t, and they wouldn’t start just because it got dark (he explained it better, FYI).
But we do. Humans, innately and in an effort to simply to see something unusual and wonderful, endanger ourselves and put ourselves off and rearrange everything, for a scientific curiosity and a natural beauty.
In those two minutes, time slowed. We laughed, we cheered, we marveled, we ranted and raved and were left speechless. It’s almost easy to describe what we saw: a bright ring around a dark shadow, the shiny corona of the sun surrounding the sun like a ring on a finger. But it’s infinitely more difficult to describe how we felt.
That innate human quality to go out and discover the interesting, to face the dangerous simply for the thrill or the marvel, to stare up at the stars and dream, is something we need to hold onto. It unites us, a feature so incredibly human that brings out millions of people to a soccer field in a tiny town in Tennessee to stare up at the sun in wonder.
Also, just a life update, tomorrow I move back in for my sophomore year of college. Of course, I plan to keep up with my posts each week, but life happens, so we’ll see!
With love and good vibes,
(Featured Image: https://pixabay.com/en/solar-eclipse-sun-flare-solar-1482921/)
(PS: I don’t think the picture is from this eclipse, if you’re wondering:)