Waiting in a ghost town, standing in dry golden grass watching the colors of the world hover between a faded photograph as a whole and yet, taken individually each color has an inexplicable vibrancy. The more I look at each thing, the rich gold of the grass, the glowing red of Dara’s hair, the intense blue of the sky, the dark aged brown wood of the broken down farm building the more it makes no sense that taken as a whole the scene should seem slightly… faded? Grayed out? I can’t quite place my finger on it, and it’s changing too fast to matter as I sneak peaks at the rapidly disappearing sun through my filters.
The irreverent thought crosses my mind that Cookie Monster is eating the sun, but will spit it back out soon enough when he realizes it is not a cookie. It makes me giggle a bit as I make pinhole cameras with my fingertips and let eclipse shadows fall on my skin.
I start to feel sunburned and my eyes grow a bit achy, not from looking too long at the sun but because the changes in light are happening so quickly that my eyes are struggling to keep up. I can’t bring myself to care though as there is only there barest sliver of the sun remaining.
Suddenly the sky turns ultra-violet and periwinkle and no one ever told me it would do that, and the sun is a jet black disc surrounded by opalescent diamond flames that are a color beyond white and the sunset is everywhere, and I can barely breathe as I turn and turn and drink it all in, eyes wide in wonder and awe. The darkness shifts and shimmers about me as though I’m in an underwater dream on an alien world, and I’m glad I put on long sleeves before it went dark and cold.
I’m vaguely aware that mom is taking photos with her DSLR camera and Dara is shooting a panorama even as her eyes stay glued to the sky rather than the back of her view finder. I don’t even bother trying. I already know the things I want to capture most won’t get caught on my cell phone camera. I forget I wanted to see if a pinhole camera would capture the corona, because I’m too busy being mesmerized.
Then suddenly there’s a diamond flare and even without a shouted word of warning, we all know to tear our eyes away, because that last lingering second isn’t worth never being able to see it again, and the crowd cheers.
We cheer for the most profound thing we’ve ever seen, for the beauty and the lack of words and because all the energy has to go somewhere and we don’t know what to say. And we cheer because even though we wanted time to stop so we could stay like this for longer, something in us deep down is glad that the sun has returned. We wake as though from a massive collective dream and life becomes surprisingly… normal. Except that the memory keeps bubbling to the surface and we turn to each other and say “That was just…” and someone else smiles, with a light in their eyes and says “I know!”
And they do know. For 1 minute and 27 seconds (plus or minus) nothing else mattered. For 1 minute and 27 seconds at least a million people in Oregon alone (who when they left home might have been hating each other over countless things) all looked up and didn’t have room in their hearts for anything but the sheer magnificence of what they saw. That’s a special kind of magic, especially for an empath to be around.
I started texting a friend about it when I was back in range and he told me that all I needed to do now was write a song about it. I said “Well, actually…”
Because I had in fact just started one. There may not be words but it doesn’t stop me from trying anyway.