Total Isolation and Nuclear Event Detectors

I was in no way prepared for the total eclipse when it came around – it’s a good thing I wasn’t driving!

 

Sometimes it’s possible to live your life in a bubble, all you have to do is to turn off your TV, your radio and your phone.

Understandably, not a lot of people choose to do this. For many it would seem like a cry for help or even a sign of madness. When I chose to do this at the start of August last year, I wasn’t in the best of places. I was three months into my new job as a technical engineer and I was hopelessly bored.

My parents always warned me of the emotional drop off that I was going to experience in the time after graduating from college. They were right, of course, I just didn’t expect the feelings of utter ennui to be as strong as they were.

Life is pretty sweet at college‘, my Dad had said, almost to himself. ‘Just enjoy it whilst you can.’

As much as I tried to take his advice on board, I constantly found myself getting stressed over my workload. Before I knew it, I was a week away from graduation and I’d spent the last 6 months of my college life slaving away in the library. I passed with flying colours, I found a job – my parents were proud. Still, I couldn’t help but feel that I’d missed out on something.

Although I’d been told that no one ever lands their dream job straight out of college, I still struggled to deal with the grim realities of working life. I had to move several hundred miles away from my home town of Chicago, away from all the friends that I’d made in college. I was starting all over, just for the sake of work and it didn’t feel good. The flat I rented in Fulton might have been within driving distance of St. Louis and Kansas City, but it still had that small town feeling that I couldn’t shake.

I spent most of my summer on the road. The first summer after graduating and whilst my friends were travelling the world or working in vibrant cities, I was driving along the flat featureless roads of Missouri county, fitting Nuclear Event Detectors (from Wall Industries, Inc) into banks and security systems. The feel-good hits that the radios played didn’t chime with me, so I turned it off. The TV was full of beaming news anchors and sunny forecasts that I couldn’t enjoy – so I turned that off too. I had friends posting pictures of themselves partying, continuing their college lifestyles in earnest; so my laptop and phone quickly followed suit.

The 21st August 2017 was a Monday. I’d lived in a bubble for the last 3 weeks, simply taking call outs for work and grunting my greetings to any clients where necessary. That evening I was sat in my room with a beer in my hand, I remember casually wondering how much longer I could carry on this way and shrugged to myself. Rain beat against the window, reflecting my pitiful mood – I was considering going to sleep when the sun went out.

Complete darkness reigned. I was blind, I was confused. I spilled my beer everywhere.

Panic set in, I’m not religious but I remember making a brief prayer and then considering how stupid it was of me to hide away from the people that I loved. It was stupid to be wallowing inside when there were plenty of people out there who were in worse situations. I’d just about made peace with my mistakes in life when the sun reemerged and I realised that the world hadn’t ended.

The first thing I did was turn on all my devices to confirm what had just happened. The next thing I did was call my buddies in Chicago and tell them that I’d be driving home on Friday for the weekend. My bubble had well and truly burst.


Thanks to Jerry McCall who was able to escape his low-mood by being surprised by the eclipse – truly amazing! If you’ve got a similar tale that you’d like to share then Send Us Your Story!

Return to Alliance

‘Would you look at that, the total eclipse runs straight through Alliance.’

That was what my husband said when he was looking at the news that morning. I could tell that he was considering it.

The kids were busy eating their breakfast, quietly bickering with each other in soft tones, unaware of what was going through their Father’s head. Gerald had not had the best time growing up in Alliance. We’d talked about it plenty when we first started dating; in fact it was his frank admittance of being bullied as a teenager that had piqued my interest in him.

I was only 21 when we first met at a bar in Denver. He approached me whilst I was with friends and asked if I’d like a drink. I’d been drinking alcohol for a few months and my Mother had warned me about strange men offering to buy me drinks, but I still said yes. He might have been a stranger, but he was polite and smiled with a kindness I rarely saw in the more opportunistic members of the opposite sex.

He had this habit of fiddling with his glasses which I found cute, but it was how he talked that surprised me the most. His accent was straight-up Nebraskan, something that you didn’t hear every day; it was soft but well enunciated, not like the mocking drawl that you’ll hear some Denverites use when impersonating our neighbours. We ended up talking for the whole evening and the more he talked, the less he fidgeted and the more assured he sounded.

We discussed how he’d been the subject of bullying in high school, which had led to him leaving his hometown after graduation. He talked about ‘his life back in Nebraska’ as if it were half a world away, rather than just a four hour drive – but for him a decade had passed and he’d left that shuffling, nervous version of him back home. By the end of the night we were both laughing, joking about how petty our problems had been when we were teenagers. The pain had been real then, of course, but we were both different people. When we looked at each other we saw the potential of what we could be, not at who we once were.

The sound of the kids’ argument broke both Gerald and I out of our reverie. I knew he’d not even thought about Alliance, let alone returning there, for years. With a smile he turned the television off and stepped over to the kitchen table, then gripped both of our boys in a bear hug that they weren’t prepared for. Their squabble was soon muffled and turned to screams of laughter.

‘Now what’s all this about Rory taking all the syrup? Maybe I wanted some syrup? Maybe your Mom wanted some syrup?’

He looked up and flashed a wink at me.

‘How about we go for a drive and see this eclipse? I’d like to show you boys where I grew up, would you like that?’


Thanks to Katie Merryweather for this touching story of how the eclipse brought her husband back to his hometown. If you have a story about how the eclipse affected you life then please send us a message on this page.