It’s a dark stormy Wednesday in Kansas Travellers,
Between 5:30 and 5:45am we set off into the early murky morning. On my block the only street light is between my neighbors driveway and mine. After that the only lights are on the houses until the very end of the street where there is another lamppost. Kansas isn’t big on illuminating their neighborhoods for some reason, no matter where you go.
It’s funny how the darkness sort of tucks houses away who don’t have porch lights. They sort of vanish until you look very hard and see the outline of their structure. And let me tell you, the world is largely asleep at this hour. I think we are rare Travellers at this time which has a sort of flavor to it that I very much enjoy. It feels like we are brave explorers out in the world that few fail to realize is quite astonishing at this time of day.
Our usual route is about 45 minutes. We pass thru our neighborhood and cross a usually busy street that takes us to the Veterans Hospital campus. From there it’s a series of parking lots that are usually empty sparing a few cars. Then comes the part I really love, the large fields and baseball diamonds that are unoccupied and unlit at this time of day. On the far side of this installation is a wooded area filled with off road trails, paths and a small nature preserve which are all nestled into the city.
While we are back here, away from the roads, we are alone. I will spot an occasional biker or joggers on the far trail but otherwise it’s just the three of us. It reminds me of being in the center of Central Park, you are in the city but yet you feel transported to somewhere else because the sounds of all that life seem farther away than they really are.
This morning the sky was overcast with the fluff of clouds and as we reached the second parking lot, the lightening started. Not the kind that touches the ground, but the kind that ricochets thru the sky like the ball in a pinball machine. Bouncing off the clouds. Jagged and creating an irregular sense of illumination. As I looked forward towards the trees and the ball diamonds, all I could see was darkness and that was where we were going.
In truth, I’ve never walked here in the total absence of a sunrise. The sky is always in various stages of waking, but today the sun was nestled into the clouds sound asleep. And we walked into the inky shadows, which I always think is interesting because your eyes adapt and it becomes less saturated as you move into it. And with the occasional lightening flash it felt almost supernatural, which possibly sounds abit dramatic, but I’ve watched ALOT of horror movies in my life and this place where we were walking felt like the environment that such things live and breathe in.
As I looked back, everything looked father away than usual. We were alone. We pass three baseball fields on our usual journey and the last one is the farthest point of our walk. As we came around the back corner the sky flashed and I saw something. Out in the field. Let it be said that I may walk unarmed but I do not walk foolishly. I am always aware of the presence of others. When the sky lit up again, I could see it wasn’t human and it was too short to be a deer, too stocky. I wondered if my mind was playing tricks on me, because that happens in the dark doesn’t it? As we kept a forward pace, I thought, “Maybe it’s a trash can Amy and you’re just seeing things.” Nope, we’ve walked this route hundreds of time and there isn’t a trash can standing solo in the field away from the bleachers. And it was moving, it appeared to be coming our way. It looked like a large dog and there was no owner in sight.
It was a few hundred yard away and I panicked and I turned us around and ran. Fast. Because in the dark, I couldn’t be sure and I didn’t want any harm to befall the ladies or me. As we ran, Ramona got hooked on a pole and we had to stop and then I ran face first into a huge spider web with a buzzing insect trapped in it, which was now in my hair and I sputtered, swiping at my head, because I don’t want the spider in my hair and NOW, WE ARE NOW IN THE HORROR MOVIE, aren’t we???
We stopped running. We were alone again and nearing the ball diamond’s parking lot. It was thundering and the lightening was picking up speed. So we walked quite quickly back thru the diamonds, where I saw someone sleeping on a bench. We passed without disturbing them and were on our way home. In the darkness but heading toward the lights. Once the web was off my head, I felt calm. And our walk home was quick but uneventful. And as we walked I thought about the darkness…
I felt like that first plunge into the unlit fields was a sort of metaphor for my life right now. I am on my way into a place I can’t really see, it has no known form in it’s dimness, but as I move closer and into it, my vision adjusts and it’s less scary. It’s really all of our lives, the darkness has been cast into the role of stand in for the unknown. It’s all our fears. It’s the thing you have to journey through to see the light. The proverbial light at the end of the tunnel. It’s implied that the tunnel must be filled with darkness isn’t it?
The veil of night is the blanket that people hide in to commit their dark dirty deeds. Night is where crime rises and many people are confronted by their worst fears. The daylight’s absence strips away of all our distractions and noises and comforts leaving us naked to the emptiness. The gloaming hours meant for slumber also are the place where our vulnerability lives. And if Brene Brown is right, being in your vulnerability is where everything good grows.
I think the darkness gets a bad wrap and I can’t help wonder how it became the harbinger of fears both known and unknown. Before the almost animal encounter this morning, it was the most delicious journey. I say delicious not because of the taste in my mouth obviously, but how my mind felt. New experiences always have a flavor like no other. They awaken us and sort of birth other new ideas. There in that inkiness on the edge of the trees, it was peaceful and we three were bravely going into something so familiar yet completely different without the light.
Life is randomly awesome, isn’t it?
BTW, if you have never watched the original Poltergeist, you should…you will never look at lightening the same way again..and random fact, it was recently revealed that Steven Spielberg directed this movie not Tobe Hooper who is billed as the director, which makes more sense because the thing that makes the movie really work is the large dosing of humanity in it’s characters. And it’s super fucking scary. You were warned…