Friday, February 24, 2012
She raced into the right side of my peripheral vision, entering the plume of light cast by the headlight on a dark road, body churning, straining alongside the scooter. Breathing halted with a fierce intake of air, the animal moved closer as I realized my right hand had already begun throttling back, slowing the Vespa on the wet road.
It was a long day at work, one of those days when the mind leaps from one task to another, switching gears, changing realities so often that you just end feeling numb, stupid, living in a mental fog over which there seems no control. The desire to get on the scooter at 9pm was strong.
Rain fell in big, lazy drops, streaking the blackness ahead with white streaks in the beam of light. New heated gloves felt hot, a stark contrast from the cold wet air rushing under my helmet. Gingerly applying pressure to the rear brake, the doe lunged left in front of me, her eyes wide as she fought to gain speed. For just an instant everything seemed like it moved in a slow motion performance.
I’ve been here before, riding at night in the rain ready to meet the deer of which the bright yellow signs give warning. A hundred times I’ve convinced myself that I’d be ready to manage the moment.
The Vespa slowed without sliding, the machine straight, tires rolling as the rear hooves lingered in the air then disappeared into the blackness. Breath quickly fogged the inside of the visor as I considered chance, luck, and fortune against experience and skill. A mile down the road I believed in magic and the sudden appearances of ghosts and other visitors, the knowledge quickening my excitement to be riding. Riding on my mind was clear, sharp and a strange feeling of satisfaction remained, as if I was tested and passed. Or perhaps it was nothing more than understanding that there is no test – just life.