We couldn’t look directly at the sun or we might go blind. I was scared. I didn’t want to be blind. We were all gathered on my grandparents’ back patio, where much later I sat with them and smoked cigarettes and tried not to talk about cancer, and where later still I drank whiskey with my uncle and wondered how the family would stay together without my grandparents and their house to keep us there. (Turns out, we just didn’t.)
It’s funny how the memories are hazy. I don’t remember which of my cousins were on the patio that day, only that it seems like all of them. Our parents (and aunts and uncles) must have been there, cautioning us on not going blind, helping us fashion pinhole viewers out of cardboard, but I only remember a blur of faces and bodies. And fear.
We keep feelings with us long after the events themselves fade. I don’t even remember seeing the eclipse itself. Maybe I didn’t. Maybe I was too afraid to look.
My lingering feelings aren’t excitement or joy at seeing the eclipse or of fun and happiness at being with my family. They are worry that I don’t know what I’m doing. Fear that it will all go terribly wrong. Awkwardness of being around cousins and aunts and uncles I barely see.
I don’t want to be always be afraid.