Saturday, October 11, 2008

Road Reflections 3

A while back, on a bright day, it became clear to me that the serious relationship I was in would come to an end. Distressed, I commiserated briefly with a friend over the phone. Then I grabbed my helmet and gear. Before I could mount up and rock exit, he called back and told me quite simply: Right now, the motorcycle is the best and worst thing for you. I said, yeah, I know, then I put foot to trail. I rode for a long time that day. Without much in the way of skills, on roads I didn’t know, with nobody. Solus Ipse. If I needed to escape, to literally flee at great speed, this trip to nowhere was just what I needed. If I needed to think about things and take action, well. I would run out of gas sooner or later. Since then, the inner toddler in me has seen fit to name my bike. But all of my machines have had the same name: Pharmacon. A medicine. Also, a poison. Something one might need to be healthy. To which one can get addicted.

There are some times when the need arises. Since there is no such thing as silence, the curdling quiet of the night simply amplifies the chain-rattling ghosts of my flaws and failures. Why should one listen to voices that pull downward? They must be drowned by an engine, or perhaps some wind. From here, the world looks quite different from my experience of it usually. On an empty county road bordered only by tall trees, the dark would eat me if it could. It would just stamp me out until I was all shadows. The light from my headlamp fends it off. The road resents the noise of my exhaust, it’s tired of me laying my problems across it. It already has enough road kill. Sometimes, when it is really late, so late that I am the only thing on the road, I just stop. I turn off the engine and just sit on the side of the road, listening. Trying to hear for the voices that put me on this journey in the first place. They are dull. But they are not extinguished. I can’t slide those faders any further down. So I just bring some other tracks up until it is time to shut the whole console down. Thus, I ride until exhaustion, so that I can do nothing but sleep when I get home. Or I just ride until daylight, when I am safe in the noise of a turning world. It is an effort that gets me through for a time. But we all know what a bright day can bring.


VentCover said...

Yo, check it. There often comes a time when we find ourselves riding to negotiate our problems within. I unfortunately have found myself in this situation often, most recently this evening. I find it hard to distinguish the reality between the only way I know how to truly express my feelings, mainly riding, to the safety rules of the road. Much to the disposition of the people in cars that were "in my way" I zoom around, licking up pavement regardless of how much car occupies it or the protests of their horns. The poison you speak of, which is needed in many cases, is both my worst enemy and my best friend.

Lea said...

I feel you. My experience of this happens while driving a car--much different than the moto. Usually along the same stretch of highway between Charlottesville and Richmond. I have traveled some dark emotional roads on that highway, in all weathers at all hours. Also, I've always appreciated the sudden vulnerability that leaps upon me when I stop by the side of the road. It's a sharp taste.