I’m not sure why our minds select some moments to become memories and let others slip away
It’s not that popular of a word, gloaming. It isn’t even that useful. Words for sunset, dusk, and twilight already exist, why do we need another? It’s the type of word that you’d expect to be spoken on the campus of an English university, or found on the pages of a leather-bound notebook that’s carried cafe to cafe, espresso to espresso, by a student whose intellect often leaves him lonely.
I first heard it in the Mojave Desert. It was during one of those after-dinner games. The type that empties the last bottle of wine and sprawls blankets and bodies across couches and carpets. Players had to pull a piece of paper from a bowl and act out the word on it for teammates to guess before the timer expired. How does one act out gloaming?
I didn’t hear it again until a decade later. It was slipped into the second verse of a Florence + The Machine song. Despite its presence, I’d forgotten about it.
Gloaming is that transitory time between day and night when the sky splits in two and the dark east chases the soft west. It’s when the clouds look painted and transport you back to the Sistine Chapel, but this time without having to sneak photos or dodge men on mopeds offering “Rome like a local” tours.
It takes the stage unannounced at the same time each day to reveal the stars, but no numbers on a wall could mark its arrival. Miss it, and you’ll have to wait a full rotation for your next opportunity. With or without audience, it performs. Perhaps for itself. Perhaps because it knows without it, night can’t come. I wonder what we can learn from that.
I feel guilty ignoring it so often. It wouldn’t be hard to give it witness, just look out the window. Maybe, I could assign a celebration to it. Use it to mark the end of output, as a reminder to start slicing sweet potatoes and move into the end of the day. I could use it to see friends. Host weekly viewings and together stare into the sky for a nickel of time before returning inside to snack on the weekly farmers market haul. Maybe instead we just all make a pact, because making plans is easier than keeping them. From wherever we are, let’s agree to take it in each day, dedicating a few breaths…