Partial Eclipse of the Brain

So the good news is I’m not as far gone as I thought in this post-pandemic haze. And as far as I’m concerned, there is no “bad news” — I canceled it. Ain’t nobody got time for that.

As I lurch along in my social interactions, I saw a headline several weeks ago about a partial solar eclipse coming. Then I saw it was going to be at 5:30 am in the northeast, and I thought, nope. I’ll pass. I mean, not to brag or anything, but I’ve seen a total eclipse and the ring of fire and everything, so I’m good. The kid is into astronomy and in 2017 we traveled to South Carolina to see the whole shebang. It was an amazing experience that included sitting in a parking lot tailgating with hundreds of other people and playing music like “Total Eclipse of the Heart.” When I saw 5:30 am, the curiosity and the thought fell out of my head faster than setting your keys down somewhere randomly and walking away.

That is until the night before the eclipse, and the kid asked if I want to see it with him. Now this is a kid who stays up most of the night and rarely gets up before 2 pm. So him asking is meaningful and that damn motherhood thing has a way of sneaking up and smacking me in the forehead. Plus, I’m paying good money to send him to school for astronomy and physics, so yeah, sure, let’s do it!

If only we still had the eclipse glasses we bought for the 2017 trip. The official eclipse glasses, not any half-assed imitation. Now keep in mind that recently when I was with a friend, I couldn’t remember the names of two mutual friends of ours. These are people I’ve known for many years. Between perimenopause and the fact that my mom had Alzheimer’s, plus the pandemic, let’s just say I have some anxiety about my brain function. I had no recent memory of the glasses. Instead, I started looking up other other ways to see the eclipse: Pinhole projector! (lame); binoculars with some sort of filter! (Double lame, and impossible).

But then a memory from the waaaay back slowly rose up from the sludge of my brain:

I think I kept the glasses.

There were all the right reasons: I paid for official glasses, they were a great souvenir of a special trip with the kid, and we talked about going to the next total solar eclipse in Maine in 2024. OK, so I probably save them, but where? I moved a few months right after that trip, and between the purging and rearranging, what chance did I have a finding them?

Another thought rose out of the sludge. I have two boxes on my bureau that have an odd assortment of keepsakes and old pairs of glasses I keep meaning to donate. They were in those boxes or nowhere. I checked the first box, but found nothing useful. I did find a lock of the kid’s hair from when he was toddler, and now that just seems kind of creepy. Why am I saving that? I see him every day and he leaves his hair all over the bathroom, which annoys the hell out of me. And don’t get me started on saving his baby teeth. Again, wicked creepy. It seemed like the thing to do at the time, and the only defense I have is that motherhood messes with you.

One box left. I methodically start taking out all the old pairs of glasses, and then, there they are, carefully tucked into the plastic sleeve they came in.

“Woo hoo!” I shout to no one in particular as the kid is 2 rooms away. “Your mother is a good kind of crazy!”

I return to the living room, with the glasses in my triumphant grasp. “What are you yelling about?” the kid asks, clearly not understanding the significance of this discovery that practically rivals penicillin. Ah, youth. I don’t expect him to get it, but in that moment I felt like I won the brain lottery. I’m not going mad, at least not today.

But there is one more piece to this little story. The next morning at 5:30, we left the house with glasses in tow and walked to a nearby park to get an unobstructed view. It was only a partial eclipse, so the sun looked like a crescent moon with the glasses on. It was a little slice of miraculous joy. Without the glasses, the sun basically looked normal. In a full solar eclipse when the moon is in front, the daylight dims and looks like dusk, which is eerily cool. While we were gazing at the sun, a runner stopped and asked if we could see it. I said yes, and without hesitation, I took off the glasses and offered them to him. We were unmasked and ungloved, standing close. “Do you want to take a look?”

With a broad smile and a look of pure pleasant surprise, he said, “Sure!” He put them on without hesitation and said, “Wow look at that!” He handed back the glasses, still smiling. “That was great, thank you!”

“Isn’t it? Have a great day!” He continued on his run.

So moral of the story is I still have a few working marbles left, and I really need to clean out those creepy boxes.

Photo credit: The Patch

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