Thursday, October 23, 2008
Road Reflection 4: The Dark
Had a bad dream the other day. I lost track of a friend in an old hotel. The place was completely unlit, having no power and no occupants other than myself and, hopefully, my friend. I dashed feverishly from floor to floor and room to room in an effort to find her. Believing that I saw her silhouette in a doorway, i ran up to discover the nothingness that only an empty hotel room can offer. When I turned to leave, the deep, black shadows strewn about the hallway moved toward me, springing against all sense into extension, grabbing me and holding me at bay until a knife appeared from the blackness and plunged deep into my stomach. The darkness betrayed me.
The images of the dream simmered, until tonight I was finally overtaken by the feeling of falling that accompanies mystery, sexual infatuation, despair and games of billiards. I slid my jacket over my flesh and rolled out onto the streets in an attempt to make peace with something.
The person who rides without destination discovers that which lies hidden on the road. From an empty road that runs alongside the local interstate, I turned to a street that ran under the overpass to another road that dead ends just a hundred yards later than a sane person is willing to travel at night. I stopped in the middle of the parallel overpasses and shut off the bike. Even through the earplugs under my helmet I could hear cars pass overhead, transitioning from the airy whoosh of the solid highway to the hollow moan of elevated concrete support beams. A few powerful lamps over the interstate brightened the clouded sky; if not for the decisive darkness behind the last stop sign before the dead end, I would not know if it was dawn or midnight. aside from the jagged asphalt, overgrown bushes and trees marked the valley between. This place was uncared for. And I was alone.
The solitude was brutish. The cars passing overhead knew nothing of the man beneath them. They were moving along and my joy or distress would not turn them from their paths. For some reason I felt like I was back in Atiak when i thought this. Maybe because the IDP camp had no electricity and, being unlit, it existed unseen from above.
I stood for a while. Until references to Kundera and Frost left me. Until i could no longer conjure that damn Bacon painting. Until the Bon Iver song playing in my head finally came to an end like only memories can. And there, for the shortest moment, I closed my eyes and waited for the dark to keep the promise of the nightmare. When I opened them, I saw only my machine, dormant and warm. ... Its engine echoed across the bottom of the overpass. Perhaps somewhere in a nearby neighborhood a person who was trying to sleep quietly cursed as I shifted to second gear. But I was soon gone from that earshot. And the dark did not follow.
When I was in college, i would go on long walks across Tallahassee. My favorite place to stop and chill was an old grave yard close to downtown. No matter how much the city was celebrating, no matter how loud the songs of Homecoming, that place was as still as the storm after it woke jesus from his sleep. Maybe the gaping graveyard calm resented my absence. I don't know if the feeling is mutual.