As children we looked upward more. We saw objects and people as monuments, looming large against the sky. Is it any wonder that silhouettes still catch our eye, and that we don't tire from seeing big structures standing tall against the quiet blue dome? That's the child inside. Our default was wonder then, an awe separate from fear or joy; before emotion one must simply marvel at the miracle of existence. Look at any infant's face. In their gaze is everything and nothing, nothing but the purest essence of how to see, frequently unlearned over life but never completely forgotten.
Tonight the 7 emptied out early, and I drove the Prentice Street neighborhood loop alone. Magic hour is always beautiful, but there is a specific moment within those golden minutes when everything comes together. It is less a visual highlight than an interior shift, an awakening.
Here was a smattering of companions, an extended family maybe, sitting outside post-dinner on the stoop, on lawn chairs, the kids playing on grass and pavement. A little Filipino girl with a fluorescent neon green glowstick worn as a necklace around her chest: could she have known just such a glowstick lived in my memory, on an evening with these same colors, when I was her age? The park of my youth was lit just as this informal street plaza was, white fluorescents for the baseball fields, kind of eerie but kind of festive. I remember cracking into brightness the glowstick my parents gave me and gazing up at the stadium lights in the same way I now looked at the streetlamps and telephone poles, noting the contrast between their uniform dark hue and the soft gradient of post-sunset light behind them.
I turned the corner from Prentice onto 64th, high on a hill in the quiet suburbs of old Seattle, land falling away to the north and east, the panorama of Lake Washington and Bellevue sitting pink and blue in the vast evening air.
Look at those colors, the voice inside me said. I slowed to a stop. The sky was the color of childhood, yellow fading upward into evening indigo, the golden yellow orange that shifts imperceptibly into Yves Klein blue without a hint of green, as only sky can do. Look at that cerulean hue in the middle distance, right where it melds with the yellow, and look at that pink wisp of a cottonball cloud with the light blue contrasting behind it. Lower down, the telephone poles again, silhouetted by pale gold.
The only thing more beautiful than a sunset is the period after a sunset. It is in those moments, when light is becoming a shared memory, that the aforementioned moment of clarity takes place. It doesn't happen every night, and it's unrelated to how beautiful the sunset is. But deep inside a certain sometime, you'll feel a silent whisper coursing through your soul, warmly. It is made up of two things:
That part after a sunset that feels oddly like a predawn sunrise, the time before the world starts, when every aspect of existence is drenched with possibility...
And the pathos of fading twilight, a comforting darkness, but tinged with death and endings and the enveloping finality of all things.
There is a moment where it makes sense to mix these moods, to almost feel that they might in some strange way be the same. That the concept of growth, plot, trajectory, sequence- time- requires both of the above; the first to give it shape, the second to give it dimension. In the quiet flash of certain evenings, when twilight becomes dawn and no other time seems ever to have existed, for that brief glimpse of a moment... we understand, and a well-being courses through us like never before. It is, all of it, good. They are glorious and terrible, these two halves, and they are equally right and necessary and part of life. They add up to goodness.
We have all we need.