Taking a left turn directly into the sun causes instant blindness and for reasons I cannot explain a flash of memory from over a decade ago. I sat at the end of my driveway in a truck I didn’t really like with a woman I had just begun to really loathe and made a right turn and a decision. I never made the decision to loathe the woman, and really, I tried to talk myself out of it but not nearly as much as she tried to talk me into it. Two people ought not feel stuck with one another, as if neither have a way out or a way forward. There has to be a sense of future, some sort of plan rather than just a day to day to day survival mode that seems like a rerun of last month and last year.
It was a thirty minute drive to the interstate and there was no point in being in a hurry. The drive would last the better part of one thousand one hundred miles. Getting to the interstate meant that there was only one thousand, seventy miles to go. As we made another right turn to get onto I-10 the rising sun caught the rear view mirror and blinded me.
The human brain enjoys being bathed in light. It needs it. The mind operates better when there is an overwhelming sense of brightness. They eyes can allow just so much before they begin to lose their ability to adjust and just so much past that point before damage begins to occur. But the sun rose above the point it was blinding me, and then it followed along side of me, and then it set directly in front of me, and as the sun set, blinding me twice in the same day, we reached the halfway point in the drive, well, a little past it, but there was still a very long way to go.
I dreaded the drive back but this time we started at three in the morning and as Dallas faded into the background of the drive the sun came up once again, as it always had and it always will and the Universe, uncaring and blind, spins and spins and spins even as we remember certain days or certain instances in time, it is much as if there are creatures who remember atoms or molecules or perhaps, the feeling of gravity pulling in each step. None of is any different, all of it is lost in the vastness of the Universe, and none of it matters at all to the spinning earth or the sun as it consumes itself ever so slowly, much as we do with each second remembered and each passing day. Dallas, the sprawling city of street lights and billboards and gas stations with their own galaxy of lights, is where Helena lived, and still lives. We orbited for a while, she fell away from me, and it was odd, to stand in the bathroom at a gas station and know that somewhere in that vast maze of lights was someone who once loved me and one hundred feet away was someone else that would one day be a part of my past. I wondered if Helena slept, or was awake, or was still in love with the man she moved to Texas with, or if she had died. I will never know any of these things.
The sun greeted me head on that day, another time of blindness much like the one created when people meet and they orbit one another. So rigid is the pull of gravitation they cannot imagine it will weaken and end as all things do and there isn’t a Universal maintenance. Bodies fall out of the heavens with regular ease flaming out and being consumed by nothing more than friction and air. There is a form of delight we human have in seeing the bright falling scar of light in the night shy but we do not realize there are no wishes and there will be nothing promised by the destruction we see. We are blind to this during the day but we never think about how many of those object fall in plain sight unseen.
If someone were to ask you to take them to get a gallon of milk, to a store that was a hundred miles away, you might very well balk at the idea but let the road be a thousand one hundred miles long and one hundred miles is a fraction of a day. Seventy, eighty, ninety miles and more on the odometer means little at all. State lines come into view, pass behind the truck, mile markers are eaten like pieces of candy and caffeine is the only One True God. I thought about it, right before the Texas state line appeared, there was a rest area and I thought about pulling in and telling her that I was going to leave there in Texas, but there was no one to come rescue her from me. Odd, isn’t it? You keep someone near to you to keep someone else from having to rescue that person from you. I wonder if she read these thoughts. I wonder if she knew the thoughts before I did.
It was New Year’s Eve and we finally made it back to the driveway and made a left turn into it. One thousand, ninety-nine point seven miles had passed underneath the truck I did not like with the woman whom I loathed. There would be no celebration or fireworks or staying up another hour or two to greet 2002. There would be no popping of corks or streamers flying. The sun would rise in another seven hours but I would not greet this one, no, not this time. That day, that night, that trip, would submerge in my mind, lost in the swirling masses inside my head and only return to me at odd times, when there was so much light, it created blindness.