‘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.