August 14th, 2013

ColorfulMe

An impossible moment

I grew up in Milwaukee on the west shore of Lake Michigan, and my family had a summer cottage on the west shore of Green Lake in Wisconsin. The idea that sun rose over water — in the east — was deeply ingrained.

So one evening I was sitting with a friend at a seaside restaurant in Los Angeles, and I saw that the sun was setting over water. That meant it was setting in the east!

Sunset_2007-1

Had the Earth reversed its orbit? I looked around in a sudden panic. Other people chatted happily, enjoying their dinner. Was I the only one who had noticed?

And if the Earth had reversed its orbit or the sun had gone rogue or whatever, that would have had serious consequences: giant earthquakes, maybe. Yet even though we were in Los Angeles, the ground remained steady.

Oh, right, Los Angeles. Pacific Ocean. In the west. It’s okay.

But for a terrifying and astounding instant, the cosmos had gone completely wrong. That impossible moment, that enormous feeling, has always been one of my treasures.

— Sue Burke
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