The Light Comes Back

I was lucky enough to request yesterday off months ago so that with Lumberjack, my best friend, and her partner, I could drive down to the middle of nowhere in eastern Oregon right near the center of totality zone on our momentous eclipse day here in the States.

Because we're the four of us busy people, we maybe didn't do quite enough to prepare (i.e., find a place to stay the night in totality zone before they were all booked). I'll tell you the four things that I think were vital to our success this adventure:

  1. We bought certified eclipse glasses
  2. I read Annie Dillard's essay on her experience of the eclipse in 1979 (available to read here at the Atlantic only for a short while longer)
  3. We made a playlist
  4. We set out very early



Totality was spectacular. First the light turned greyer. The shadows began to fall wrong across the landscape and our bodies. I watched my husband smile nervously in a new shade of blue, the shadow of his face falling short and sharp across his shoulders — beautiful and otherworldly. I felt nervous myself, a base anticipation pervasive. We toasted then to our resilience in darkness. It descended heavily and suddenly but light could be found at all the edges, sunrise on every horizon. In totality the dance between sun and moon was spectacular and clarifying. We laughed and exclaimed. People ran in circles. Crickets chirped. Suddenly my heart ached knowing this tango between two epic celestial bodies would soon end. And then with a brilliant glitter emblazoned at once across both of them, triumphant, the sun came back. We toasted to the return of light.


As we packed everything up, peed in the trees, and got back in the car, the sun was clawing again for purchase in the sky. I cried, then. I've been thinking all year about hope and how to hold onto it when you're plunged into a world of darkness. It turns out the light always comes back.

Then we drove eight hours home and we all sang loudly to Total Eclipse of the Heart, which is an excellent song. (I won't wax on the cheap and obvious metaphor for any longer, I promise.)