When we planned our makeshift tour; organized venues, stays, gas...there were so many elements left unconsidered.
We had discussed Disneyland--my one true caveat for spending a summer on the road--and gigs. I kept my fingers crossed that we'd make it to Oregon by the eclipse; packed multiple face-soaps and deodorants. We printed itineraries, added every venture onto Pinterest boards, found the top 50 donuts in 50 states...it all felt as well-conceived as a brand new thing can be.
And, after we played our first show in North Carolina, under the light of fireflies and an orchestra of crickets, I knew we were doing the right thing. From jam sessions in Atlanta to rehearsals in Nashville; to cover-shows in Austin to San Diego nights where the people danced and bought shirts, and believed in the words coming out of our mouths. That stuff's the thing of magic--and being a part of something so vulnerable has been such a gift.
We stayed in AirB&Bs which was another level of vulnerability; living in other people's homes--other people willing to share them. People never ceased to amaze us with their kindness and generosity.
That was until we left our car for fifteen minutes in San Francisco and returned to a shattered window, a missing guitar, missing bags, missing parts.
There is no point recounting the night, the morning; precariously moving glass to look under seats, hoping something fell and was not stolen. Staring but hardly seeing. Calling for help and hearing that people do not come to the rescue here.
This is nothing compared to floods or hurricanes; to marches, to car crashes, to bombings--but this moment began to overshadow the heart of our adventure--the people we had met and the shows we had played--it was all eclipsed by a darkness we never saw coming.
It was not a tragedy, in the way we have taught ourselves the word, off dirty newspapers and smudged screens, but it is a lesson in the opposite of kindness. And from the hands of someone else's sickness, I jokingly say it was a loss of innocence (but that doesn't make it any less true). Whatever parts of myself still believed in the the golden rule-- tarnished.
The next morning I woke up one eyeball at a time, squinting through the truth until it felt like a nightmare. But it was real. We waited for the glass to be fixed--we filed forms with people who had washed their hands before we walked into the room. It felt like a dead-end.
But we drove onward. And on our next stop, we were confronted by generosity that topped what we had seen before, a ten-fold. We borrowed instruments and played into the night, in the backyard of the people we were staying with, surrounded by bushels of blackberries, grape-filled vines, and the kindness of strangers.
After our pit-stop, we drove on to the eclipse.
The funny thing about an eclipse is that, unless you find yourself directly in the path of totality, the sun never fully goes away. Without glasses, though it may turn the world into Sepia tones, there is still a sun. And a person in too much of a hurry, with a stock meeting or a speech to memorize, or a girlfriend his parents are meeting for the first time, might miss the eclipse altogether. Because just as quickly as the sun disappears, it pokes its rays out as if to say, 'See, I'm not going anywhere.'
We pick ourselves up and it sucks and it's hard and, so often it is so unnecessary, but I have to keep reminding myself that the world is more than a single person: more than me, more than the person who broke the window and stole what was not his, more than the kindness of strangers; the heartbreak of a hurricane, the sadness of a storm.
And when my heart goes dark, confused by another's actions, it's a comfort to know that, as quickly as the shadows fell, there's always a light somewhere (as long as you are receptive to it) saying, "See, I'm not going anywhere."
This is Me:
My name's Melissa. I'm the girl with her hands in her journal.