30 September 2012

How dark the night

It rained yesterday, all day and all night. It looked like a typical ArkLaTex winter day. It felt like fall, with a high of only 77.

I love grey rainy days. I turned off the teevee and the air conditioner and I listened to the rain until it sent me into that beautiful state of half meditation, half doze that brings such peace.

I did manage to break my reverie and drive into town to make my meeting, and I'm glad I did. The meeting was the perfect end to a beautiful day.

However, the drive home was horrific. I'm pretty sure I hydroplaned all the way. There was no moonlight, and the streetlights couldn't penetrate the darkness beyond the area immediately beneath their bulbs.

It was so dark, and there was so much standing water on the roads that I just wanted a valium with a side of xanax by the time I got home.

As I drove, I couldn't help but feel like I had entered some apocalyptic wasteland. Each time I passed a building, the water pouring over the edges of the roof, it reinforced the sense of isolation. It seemed that I was the only car on the road.

Even with my glasses on, I had trouble seeing. It was the darkest darkness I have experienced in a very long time.

Usually, nothing but a cop slows me down. It is not abnormal for me to be doing 90 on these backroads into the swamps, even at night. Last night, I felt more like the captain of a ship on a storm-tossed sea, and didn't go over 65. Just when I'd think I had made it through the worst, the car would start sliding where the water wanted to take us, and I would have to slow down again.

As I fought my natural instinct to drive it like it was a rental, I began to wonder where the tension was coming from; my hands were cramped from gripping the steering wheel so tightly. I realized that, even though I don't remember any of it, the crash that broke my neck still haunts me 13 years after it happened. Once I admitted it, I was able to relax my grip just a little bit and concentrate on making it home in one piece.

I still can't shake that sense of isolation I felt last night. It was dark, and all of the wonders of man couldn't keep the darkness at bay. I can remember a time when I was afraid of the dark. Then there came the time I spent in a place where the lights never went completely out, and I grew to understand that the darkness wasn't the enemy. The darkness just hid the rest of the world from me, and I was left with only myself to contemplate. Today, I'm OK with that, and I don't mind the dark. That isolation doesn't leave me with the company of a monster; it leaves me with the company of a woman doing the best she can with what she has to work with.

Maybe last night was a good thing. Maybe I needed to see things from that perspective. Maybe I needed to be reminded that man, in all his greatness,  is still subject to the whims of nature.

We may not always be able to conquer the darkness. What we can do is realize that we don't have to fear it. And it can't rain all the time, so I am going to go enjoy the sound of it while it lasts, just not on my windshield today. My hands are still too cramped from last nights odyssey.

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