It’s Friday, January 2nd. The sun is sinking slowly through the sky. I’ve set out to catch the sunset yet every view I’m finding is obstructed.
“Will I make it in time?” “Will I miss the sunset?” “How many minutes do I have”
The questions are rushing through my mind.
I come across a gate.
The gate is open so I invite myself in.
I can feel myself getting closer to the sun… There’s a fence– blocking the way down to the water … But it doesn’t meet the ground. I take in my surroundings – no one is around. I slip under the chain links .
“Oh my goodness.”
I take a deep breath. I’m greeted with a view of the city I’ve not quite taken in before. Immediately to my right is the Williamsburg Bridge- a giant in the sky next to me.
In the distance is a clear shot of the Manhattan and Brooklyn Bridges- parallel to a stunning view of the World Trade Center.
I can feel the temperature slowly dropping.
I grip my camera.
My hands are beginning to lose feeling. I left my gloves behind for the day. An amateur photographer’s mistake.
But I feel somewhat prepared for this:
I remember back to the first drive on our road trip. It’s sometime between 4 and 430am. David and Kim are just waking up. We are crossing into Virginia – and the sun will be rising soon enough. Without fear- without doubt- and in total agreement we decide that our goal is to catch the sunrise- it’s our first real day all together and we want it to literally start at the crack of dawn. This census also sets the tone for the trip.
At this point, David has switched to the driver seat. I’ve switched to the passenger seat. I’m googling frantically for a spot. “Will we miss it?”
The question echoes in my mind.
We are in Fredericksburg, approaching a battle ground up on a hill…
“That’s the spot,” we all agree. It’s cold then; like it is now. I’ve got a leather jacket on; a silly yellow hat and some sweatpants. But I don’t feel the cold. I feel a sense of pride; a sense of excitement – a sense that warms me up: a sense that keeps me going.
Now, I’m warming up as I snap photos of the current sunset in New York. The memories make me smile. What’s ahead makes me smile.
The road trip ignited a different perspective in me:
“Thank the sun.”
Throughout the trip, we came to a common agreement that when we could- we would fight to see the sun set- or rise. We’d go miles out of the way; cross bridges to different states; and wake up just a little extra early to get the brightest start to the day.
We’d search for wide open space to catch sunset.
We’d comment on the type of sunrise/set we were watching:
“That’s a scrambled sunrise” I’d say as we watched the light appear just over a mountain in Nooksack Washington. “Scrambled cause you’ve got some clouds here and there but not enough to obstruct your view.” We’d add: “If there were no clouds, it’d be a sunny side up kinda day.”
No matter what: There were always more sun rises to catch- sunsets to seek – or sometimes miss; and beyond all: there were suns to chase.
Sunchasing – that’s the adventure – that’s what’s gotten me here- on a bed of loose rocks above the east river, on January 2nd, 2015.
In-between photos, I break to breathe in what I’m watching; to take a moment to appreciate what I’ve searched to be able to see. To be grateful for this opportunity; to cherish that big ball of fire in the sky.
When the road trip started – I’m not sure I could tell you why the sun rises or sunsets meant so much to me.
It’s been just about two years and I think I’m finally starting to understand it. Because every time I see one now… Every time I go out of my way to comment on if it will be a scrambled, fried or sunny side up kinda day- I think of my friends:
I think of David and Kim waking up in the car and wanting to catch that first sunrise as much as I do. I think of how I don’t get to see them often; how David is in New Mexico- how I am here. How Kim is in Long Island- and how we still don’t get to see one another often – both due to demanding schedules.
I think of friends, teachers and family who have moved away. I breathe into the golden rays
and suddenly the sun seems a lot closer- and if that sun can seem a lot closer – then my friends ultimately are always right here with me in a way.
You see, the thing about the sunrise – or the sun set is that it’s a constant reminder that no matter the distance between two people: we are still right here on the same earth; and in the end; that’s truly not all that far after all.
If you’re missing a friend today- if they are just a little “too far away:”
Take a walk; find an open space; take a seat; and breathe in that giant ball of fire.
Go on now, go, chase the sun.