My Total Solar Eclipse Experience, Part II

 Image by Rachel Leah Gerson. NOTE: This photograph has not been filtered, engineered, or edited in any way. You can clearly see creatures dancing in the fire! More pictures on Instagram @doorwaytoself    *This is part 2 of 3. Click  here  to read part 1.

Image by Rachel Leah Gerson. NOTE: This photograph has not been filtered, engineered, or edited in any way. You can clearly see creatures dancing in the fire! More pictures on Instagram @doorwaytoself

*This is part 2 of 3. Click here to read part 1.

I was starting to smile more and more as we set up camp. "What?" Chris asked. "You don't even understand what you did, just now, finding that honeysuckle," I looked at him with grateful eyes. "What? What do you mean?" At that moment I felt the urgency hit me- I really needed to pee. "I'll tell you as soon as I get back from the bathroom." 

The bathroom was a couple minute walk away, and again I felt my eyes roll as I was thinking about how stupid it was to be camping and not be allowed to pee in the woods, and then the image of the honeysuckle buzzed into my mind. Rachel. I thought to myself. Get a hold of yourself. All of this is happening for a reason. You are human, and it's okay if you allow yourself to get frustrated and feel anger and fear and disappointment for a while, but it's not okay to get stuck in it. You've had your moment. You've gotten the sign to help dig you back up and out. Now use it, and move on. Look for the actual reason: Why are you really here?

At that moment I looked up and saw a camper. It looked like the exact same model camper that my aunt and uncle used to own- they would take my brother and my cousins and I to Muskegon State Park every summer to do "Boot Camp", as they called it. I used to love campgrounds. I thought. Okay. So there's your second paradigm-shifter: try to remember why you loved camping at these places as a kid. Go back to that place. Growing up in Los Angeles, the camper times that I had had in Michigan with my family every summer were what I had known of being wild and free. So maybe that was it- Universe was helping me to remember how lucky I was to have gotten those opportunities to ease me into nature, as a kid. Or to remember how lucky I am to have experienced nature more extremely wild than these types of campgrounds. Or maybe it was trying to help me feel at home in some way, I don't know. But I peed in the allotted pee place (AKA the bathroom) and it smelled exactly like the one at the campground we used to go to- a bit like sulphur and iron- and I felt at home. 

When I got back to our camp spot, conversation had gotten sidetracked and we ended up getting our bathing suits on instead of me telling Chris about the honeysuckle- there was a lake on the other end of the campgrounds- and though I was aware of the sidetracked conversation, I also felt that the time for the story was not quite right. The campgrounds were huge and it was hot and sticky and we were exhausted, so we decided to drive to the lake. Even at that it was still definitely a few minutes of driving- I'm serious. The place was really big. And when we got there, the parking area was closed off, for whatever reason... so we needed to find a place to park.

We were driving around for a minute when I noticed a camping space that had been zoned out due to a newly planted tree, but there was space for us to park there. I told Chris to turn down that street but hadn't communicated why, and he ended up pulling up to a camping space and asking the man with the very thick southern accent if he knew a place where we could park. "Well sure!" he said. "Just pull on up right here! Our spot's big enough. Let us show you some hospitality!" Chris and I smiled at each other, both clearly thinking, Well look at that serendipity! and he pulled into the campsite and parked.

The man was there camping with his wonderful family who he introduced us to- a wife and two kids. They were on their way back to Kentucky from a road trip that they had gone on up to the Northern tip of Indiana and Ohio, and were going to be at the campground for a few days to wait out the eclipse traffic.

"You live there and you don't want to see it?" Chris asked.

They said no, they lived on the eastern side of the state outside of the line of site, and they really didn't want to deal with the traffic in and out of Hopkinsville.

"Those people are crazy," the man said.

"Well," Chris laughed. "That's where we're going, tomorrow..."

"Hopkinsville?" he looked at us, wide-eyed. "Y'all are crazy." He paused. "Y'know, our neighbour over there- we like to get to know our neighbours- he's goin' to some church in the middle of nowhere to watch it. Just like that! In the middle of nowhere! Yea, he pulled up the maps, looked at where it was gonna hit, and just like that he's leavin' to git there tomorra mornin'" 

Chris and I looked at each other with raised brows, and then Chris looked back at the man and said, "No kidding."

~~~~~~~~~~~

The water was beautiful on our skin: silky and warm with the healing nutrients of freshwater seaweed skimming our bodies and sinking into our pores from the outside in as we glided through it like otters taken back to their habitat.

"This is what I needed," I said. "Water has always been the most grounding thing for me."

"It's funny you say that," Chris said. "I've never really thought of it that way, but it's like... I was really stressed out after everything just now, and I kept thinking, I need to be near water. Just take me to a campground with a lake, or something, because I knew it was exactly what would calm me down."

It was at that moment I felt right to tell him about the honeysuckle, and the water around us seemed to get warmer (no, neither of us peed- we checked).

~~~~~~~~~~~

Walking back to the car we started talking about how crazy it was that we had met that family and parked our car there- just like that. Universe was literally saving a spot for us. A spot that had a message.

"Yea," Chris said, "I would really like to talk to their neighbour about the church thing. I mean, does that sound like a good idea to you?"

"Absolutely!" I said, beaming and a bit relieved. "Really, Hopkinsville is what was mentioned in all of the newspaper articles and stuff, but I was thinking about it and, it's not like that sun says, 'Hey, I feel like going into totality right here in Hopkinsville but nowhere else in the surrounding area'. But because we're so programmed that way as Americans, to think so strictly and logically about the placement of things, everyone is gonna go there. It's gonna be a mad house."

"That's what I'm thinking," he said. "So you want me to look at the map and see where else is in the line of totality that we could go to, instead? Maybe we could even find something closer to us." (At that point, we were still 1 hour and 45 minutes outside of Hopkinsville, discounting traffic.)

"That sounds great." he said.

~~~~~~~~~~~

We were sitting by the fire eating the corn casserole that the Kentucky man's wife had sent us back to our spot with, and the darkness was starting to set in. Gratitude overwhelmed me for the entire experience we had just had, barring the eclipse that was yet to come.

"Campgrounds here are much different from in Michigan," Chris remarked.

"Yea..." I said, mulling over the comment. "I think I know what you mean. Like, campgrounds in Michigan are more about how drunk can you get and how loud can you play your music."

"Yea," he said. "And here it's like the dark hits and it's bedtime."

We sat on the picnic table bench, looking up at the stars through the shadows of trees and listening to the crickets and frogs and cicadas so invisible to the eye but so seen by the ears. 

After a while of sitting by the fire and talking, Chris pulled his phone out and went closer to the fire. "I want to remember this fire," he said. "There's just something about it."

I smiled and felt myself warm in agreement. "I know what you mean," I responded. "I've felt like there's extra magic in this fire..."

There was silence as he took the picture before he suddenly said, "Holy shit! You've gotta see this!" and ran over to me with his phone. Sure as sure gets, elementals were dancing throughout our campfire.

You could see the yellow and orange outlines of figurines- dancing faces and arms and torsos- smiling and reaching out to us, touching us with their emanating beauty, power, and protection. We spent a while trading off taking pictures of the fire, and then coming back together to analyse where the creatures in the fire were, and what they were trying to tell us. The magic in the air was palpable, and we felt both at One with everything, and yet completely removed from the campground and the people behind us, as though they had fallen away behind us in the dead of the night.

And then I understood it; why we were there, at the campground; why we were surrounded by hundreds of sleeping people instead of acres of awakened forest. 

Energy is all it takes. To be in the vicinity of energy is all it takes to be touched by it. So all of these sleeping people... they had all subconsciously needed to be touched by magic, whether through the elementals in our fire, through Chris, through me, through both of us, through everything together... they needed to be touched by it. And perhaps we needed to be touched by them, too. Regardless, we were there to do the work.

So the next time that you're feeling out of place, or like you were supposed to be anywhere other than where you are, you can take the time to remember that it might not be about you or your experience. It might, instead, be about the experience of the people or the animals or the place around you. It might be that they need to be energetically touched by you, and maybe there's even something or someone there that you need to be energetically touched by, too. 

As we watched the last embers die down and the shadows of the trees fold in over us like blankets, the smiles on our faces stood still as the stars, and our hearts were as full as our smiles. 

And I couldn't help but wonder... If this was the eclipse energy tonight. What in holy Universe's name would the actual Eclipse be like, tomorrow? 

...To be Continued. (Find Part III here!)

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