Total Eclipse of the Heart

So where were you when the sun went out?Eclipse2

In North America, the last total solar eclipse of the 20th century occurred on Monday, Feb. 26, 1979.

Apparently it was a big deal.

The journal picks up the story: “Eclipse. …All that you buy, beg, borrow or steal. There is supposed to be a total eclipse of the sun today at 9:35 in the morning, lasting until a little before 11:00. I’ll notice the change when I walk out of History.”


Things weren’t going very well at the U. I was struggling to make it through winter quarter, and night work at Augsburg was draining. “School is really a problem,” the journal states. “I’ve got to register for next quarter today. Sunday I put my ACT loan application in the mail at Ridgedale. I absolutely can’t wait until next school year.”

You see, I wasn’t sure college was right for me.

On a Liberal Arts track, I was testing the waters with courses in Medieval History, Far Eastern Art, and the late Arthur Ballet’s Introduction to Theater class. My first book, The Crowded Room, was nearing completion. The journal admits it was “all I care about doing,” and that I was about “to begin the first rewrite of the entire book. It is closing in on eighty pages now.”


Here today, gone tomorrow. Michelle had become an idle obsession: “Can’t stop thinking about Michelle. …Something there, I know, or am able to know. The Past still thunders. Only the Future knows why.”

The thing is, I was chickening out. There’s no indication in the journal that I even attempted to ask Michelle out after that Sno-Daze party.

I was content to just live with the memory—in case anything should come along and shatter it to pieces.

Perhaps love, at 19—looked at directly, like a solar eclipse—was just too intense an experience, something that needed to be approached with caution, respect and, maybe, time.

I was content to put any feelings I was having into the characters of my story, such as protagonist Jeffrey Dunne’s growing alienation from his girlfriend and high school peers, or his buddy Bob Ruskin’s overall awkwardness and bad luck with girls.


The following day’s entry opens, “The eclipse was disappointing. What eclipse?”

As I waited for the downtown bus at 9:00 a.m., high school pals Dave Rogers, Chad Moore and Vince Marshall drove by and stopped. They were going to Chanhassen to pick up Dave’s guitar, so I hopped in. They dropped me off at the West Bank, where I got to Intro to Theater just in time.Eclipse2

That afternoon I swung by Middlebrook Hall to see if Geoff Morrison was in, but he’d already left for lunch. I thought to wait around for him, but realized that cute girl from St. Louis, Missouri—whose name I thought was Lisa, but was actually Thérèse—was also on Geoff’s floor.

Sometimes she curled up on the sofa in the student lounge, watching TV and cupping her long brunette hair back over her ear. I had another ticket to the Yes concert and, though I’d offered it to Michelle (who said she’d “let me know”), Thérèse was the first person to mention it to me. And she seemed more available.

As February 1979 wound down, the journal entries became more bizarre: “Descartes never went to high school in the ’70s. All that you touch and all that you see. Rolling Stones. So what. Lily and the Jack of Hearts. Queen of Hearts is your best bet.”

Clearly I was bored with school, dulled by factory work, and entirely confused about who I really wanted to date.

And I was anxious to finish The Crowded Room before March ended. Maybe the oddball journal entries were a way to blow off steam. I don’t know.

“Mary had a little lamb.
Everywhere, it went.”

~ by completelyinthedark on November 22, 2013.

One Response to “Total Eclipse of the Heart”

  1. Reblogged this on Completely in the Dark and commented:

    New post in the draft hopper, not ready for publishing. So, in light of our forthcoming total solar eclipse, here’s this chestnut about the last time it happened, back in 1979. Enjoy!


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