Nov 2, 2006

The Dark Side Of The Road

I need to ride at night more.

Night. Darkness. We get that good brand of darkness here, out in the country. No lampposts every thirty feet, no seventy-story buildings showering down neon and fluorescent lights from every window. No, we get that professional level darkness out here in the sticks, the sort of darkness that shows every star, every tiny silver meteoric slash across the black, and I love it for driving in.

Let me tell you why.

Black Betty. My bike. Any bike for that matter, but for me, now, it's Black Betty. With the night drawn around me like a cape, my black leathers, and all that velvety blackness, it's a dream. Betty's headlamp is a yard in front of me, as are the twin orange spheres of her running lights. Behind me is her brake light and the end of her cannon-like exhaust, but that's all lost in the rush of wind. All that I have in front of me is the pale blue of her instrument panel, floating in the darkness like a lover's kiss. The darkness suspends me, and everything draws close around me, until I am cradled in a pocket of air and blackness.

When I was a kid I was terrified of the dark. I absolutely had to have a night light, and most times I couldn't even sleep without my brother or mother being in the room with me. My imagination was so powerful and I was so afraid of lonliness that I couldn't sleep without something to comfort me. The darkness contained all the thing that I was terrified of, gave them all free reign to encroach on me.

And, as I got older, that need for the lambent glow, that desperation to have the light came under my control, was tempered with reality, with the knowledge that the night is truly nothing to fear, and finally one night I found that instead of being comforted by the light filtering from the tiny nightlight in the hallway I was annoyed by it. The first night I slept in total darkness was, oddly enough, an awakening. I had come to love the darkness. I had realised that the night brings it's own wonders.

With the end of Daylight Savings Time a few days ago I find that if I have an errand to run after work it puts me in the dusk coming home. The sun is fading from the sky, limning the clouds with electric reds and pinks, shading them with somber purples and royal blues, and la Lune is coming into her own, bathing the world in her soft greys and pale ivories and gentle slate blues, softening the hard edges, turning angles into softly furred curves, and there I ride. There I am; a yellow cone to herald my passage, a red gleam and chrome grumble to mark my exit, and suspended there in the middle, bathed in blue, there I am, ensconced, protected.

Comforted.

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