Cannon Beach, Oregon, is an artist's town. Most people flock to Seaside, just a few miles north along the coast. It's a tourist trap, and I loathe the place.
It is, among other things, the home of Haystack Rock, which looks like a haystack, smells like seaweed (which will make you quite nauseous if you're not used to it), is the home of a great many seagulls, and one hell of a place to go tidepooling.
The place is a touchstone for me. One of the pictures I have, I'm too old to remember, is my mother and I in front of Haystack Rock. The sun is setting, and my mother is walking along the beach, but there are no footprints behind her. I, still a small child, am on her shoulders, looking out to the sea.
There seems to be some symmetry in this; I am lightblind; the sun has never been my friend, but I have always found some comfort, however small, in the sea.
But once - just once - in my life, at Cannon Beach, I saw the sun. I was about to leave for college. I was sitting on a log of driftwood, looking out over the ocean. There weren't many people. The only sounds were the gulls calling, and the roar of the waves.
It was winter, and, as befits the Oregon coast, very cloudy. (I understand storm watching is quite popular.)
It was also evening. It was dark enough for me to take my sunglasses off.
As I sat there, thinking, looking at the western sky, I thought that the moon was quite large. As soon as that thought crossed my mind, I remembered something. I had driven out west earlier that day, and seen the moon in the southeast. It was a crescent, not full.
That big ball I was looking at was the sun, making a glittering reflection on the sea.
Now, I can't even begin to write down what went through me then, so I won't even try. I just sat there, watching.
It's been six years since then; six years that have seen me built up to the heavens and torn down to almost nothing. A few months ago, I went back to Cannon Beach. I couldn't look at the sun without the sunglasses. It was just too bright.
I don't know if I'll ever see the sun again. And sometimes, I'm not even certain I want to.