Wednesday, December 16, 2009

In The Court Of The Crimson King

Running from the dark. It is an old pastime, a deep seated fear and a primal trigger in the reaches of my wiring. My only rule as a kid was to be home before the streetlights came on. I always overestimated the daylight and underestimated my ETA to the porch. Many a panicked time trial was motored home at the top of my heart rate.

I never tired of the game and the pattern repeated. I frequently found myself waiting in the lineup for one more wave, as the fifty foot Australian pines subdivided the sun like a math graph. The switch would flip, and turn the blue ocean to oil. Over head swells look just like lull, when the contrast is turned down. The adrenalin drives the pupils open and the brain searches frantically for clues of survival. At the edge of hope, I'd catch one and aim for the last trace of glare.

I arrived at the top of a skate park snake run, when I heard my name over the P.A.. They shut out the lights and I bombed that run full speed from memory. It was quiet, roaring, calm and frantic, all in one trance. The kind of thing that makes the more aware and older in attendance marvel at stupidity, luck, and skill with equal measure. A head shake and an insult were the only payoff.

So it was that I found myself, after starting too late, with no light, picking my way out of Cadillac, Tom Brown and finally a pitch dark Fern Trail. Now the challenge is not so much how far my courage will hold, but over coming my failing eyesight. My rock and roll hearing (which is white noise at the first wisp of wind), leaves me rotating my head like an escaped mental patient, trying to hone in on what ever real or imagined threats, are scurrying in the periphery.

Safe on pavement the final act is winding down at thirty miles an hour. Nothing is as sweet as passing commuters in the bike lane, as traffic chokes the progress, of the shiny metal boxes. At last, safe in my hood, I am tortured by the smell of fire wood and combinations of dinners in the breeze. The last blocks are a hands free cruise, past holiday lights.

Darkness is a magical thing. It is where the truth lives. It is the place where love is made, and doubts grow into mountains. There is a thrill that comes with living three feet at a time, known only to those who ride in silhouette.