A small group of groovy neighbs stood on the corner, staring away from Earth. They all had the same smile under their noses. Smiles you see at secluded music festivals, during the darkest parts of the morning, by those who had the best trips and were contented by their decisions and experiences that followed.
“You’re missing the eclipse, man,” the one with the longest hair murmured out the side of his mouth.
His voice was gentle and dreamy and almost made me crash my bike in an unexpected fit of narcolepsy. But what kept me awake was the small excitement that my theory further held true: that in these certain groups of people, the one with the longest hair was somehow the de facto leader. The philosopher king. He who held The Conch.
There were other clusters of people all throughout the hood. Families, new couples, steady partners, single dads, hippie moms, runners, dog walkers, telescopers—not all as on point as my fearless and charismatic savior, who in his flowing curls of enlightenment somehow figured I was the only one in the neighborhood completely oblivious to the hundreds of necks hell-bent toward heaven. Perhaps this said more about me than him, for I was the only one with my back to the eclipse, riding away from it like I owed it a beer.
My mission, little did he know, would take me to Tempe Beach Park and across to the canal paths. I’d be riding toward the eclipse the whole time, once I got out of the hood.
My first glimpse of it was on the footbridge, where a row of blinking red lights ran its length. Some had cameras and phones, but most took it all in the natural way. Kip rode up along side me and told me he was headed to the Hole In The Rock. By the twinkle in his eye, I guessed he was less than three beers deep.
“Let’s do it,” I told him.
He led me on a screaming ride, much too fast for my liking or stomach, but not too fast as to blow right through surrealism. On the other side of the lake, people were on tables, on blankets, or sitting lakeside, scattered everywhere. The canal paths weaved in and out of every different flavor of space cadet. The night so filled with life, but so quiet and still. The only sound was the squeak of a chain that hadn’t been lubed in half a year. To whom it may concern, my bad. Sincerely, yours truly.
On my way back, by myself and no longer feeling the need to vomit, I thought about what a wise young woman once said: “Isn’t it weird to think that although we’re a hundred miles apart we’re both experiencing the same observation?”
Not only did this make me wonder how many stoner thoughts this lunar event was inspiring, but her comment also made me think about how what I was seeing unfold tonight was also unfolding in most neighborhoods, parks, lakes, and bike paths in our corner of the earth. That anywhere there was darkness, chances were strong that countless eyes and minds and imaginations were all quietly directed toward the same piece of sky. An ocean of brainwaves oscillating in isolation.
The next morning I showered, ate, and headed out for a morning ride. I took the same route I always did; the same route I took last night.
The lawns of Tempe Beach Park were littered with plastic from a concert the night before. A show that was some how muffled by the moon as I rode behind it. I swerved through piles of shattered glass. The footbridge was empty. A shirtless man sat on a bench by himself, smoking a cigar and looking over an empty lake. I pedaled long stretches before seeing another biker or runner or walker. But the noise was back. The white noise of the daily grind. Planes, trains, and cellular phones. The steady buzz of the world spinning back to normal, tuning us down to a frequency lower than a bleeding moon.
I reached the top of my favorite hill at Papago and looked up and out. “You’re missing the eclipse, man…”
We all did.
Written by: Bradley Sutherland
Photo credit: Singleton