Pointing my motorcycle east, a promised bed on my mind, the sun sets behind me as I fall into an evermore contemplative mood.
You ever have that moment when you’re ripping through the desert on your purring machine in the pitch black of night, gazing up at the eerily bright Milky Way and trying to watch the road at the same time, when you’re having trouble not thinking about Tron as the yellow and white dots streak past, reflecting on the windscreen and face shield, and all you want to do is ponder the wonders of the universe? Nah, me either.
There is a gorgeous stretch of interstate cutting through the desert near the Mexican border. Regularly spaced reflectors dot the side and centre lines, their mirror-like surfaces glinting with uncomfortable brightness. At the edge of blackness I can make out a fenced border, keeping the natural and civilized worlds separate. A mutually appreciated apartheid, though both sides of the fence would prefer it wasn’t necessary. As the sun gasps its dieing breaths, the unnatural demarcation seems to guard travelers from the void itself. Not even shadow exists beyond the tall aluminium posts and taut aircraft cable lines.
Reality shrinks with the senses, leaving only a motorcycle, a rider, and an expanding sphere of darkness. My Kawasaki companion is comforting. It’s warm, shaped to my body, and powerful. I lean forward, resting my chest on the packed tank bag and tucking my head behind the tiny windscreen, listening and feeling. The rough drone of the tuned exhaust and slapping valves, high pressure knobby tires skimming asphalt, lightly tensioned chain smacking the guards every once in a while to remind them of their function. Cool winds scream by the fairings, complaining as they’re mashed through the radiator and spat out the other side. The useless end of a tie-down strap flaps in the wind behind me. An adult’s stuffed animal, all metal and plastic and gasoline. I hug the tank and wrap myself around the frame, still crouched behind the miniature windscreen. Warmth from the engine permeates my boots and shins while fresh air slips through vents in my helmet and jacket. As the outside world disappears into the night, the inside world is revealed detail by detail, begging for personification.
I pass a lone semi truck and watch his headlights blend in and then fade away with the sun.
Velocity has little meaning without a frame of reference. Acceleration is comforting. It reminds you that there is potential for more, should you need it; should you want it. The reflectors blended into milky streams of white and orange. The scene in front was no different from that left behind. The stars did not move.
The skin of the bubble of comfort and warmth wrapped around the speeding Kawasaki continued to expand and dissolve. Soon it included everything. The stars provided warmth and comfort despite their distance, and local time slowed to a crawl despite the obvious indicators of speed. Why is our local perception so different from that of the universe as a whole? As consciousness expands, reality slows.
I was tired, and looking up at the Milky Way while zipping down the highway was dangerous, so I revved it up and screamed down the road towards Tuscon and a place to sleep.