Driving East at Sunset

Yesterday’s post, which was full of pictures, seems to have gotten caught in the mysterious land of ones and zeros that lies somewhere between my iPhone and this blog. So until I can figure out how to retrieve it, we’ll all just have to imagine that it exists. You can pretend for a little while, right?

Today, we drove home and watched as the sun went from beating directly overhead to setting at our backs, as our small silver Prius raced forward into the darkness and towards home.

At first, I thought it incredibly sad that we were running away from the light, that there was perhaps some tragic metaphor about losing something as we travelled home, but as the hours dragged on, I came to the conclusion that there was nothing remotely negative about heading into darkness.

After all, isn’t that what most of life is: racing forward into the unseeable unknown? We have our comfortable habits, the way we always like to do certain tasks, but even in our routines, there is an element of uncertainty.

When I ride my bike, I travel the same route, at the same time, three times a week, fifty two weeks a year, for exactly 5.32 miles. And yet, each time I set out, something different happens.

Sometimes the chain pops off, sometimes a bus decides to nearly run me over when I legally have the right of way, sometimes I get distracted by cats and crash into stationary objects. When I leave the house in the morning, I don’t even know if I’ll make it back alive or unhurt, as small as those possibilities might be. I may be caught up in a familiar pattern, but there is nothing guaranteed about the results at all.

And a large and a little cynical part of me doesn’t understand why we choose the rising sun, the beginning of daylight, as a symbol of hope and renewal. Time exists as a circle and has no end or starting point. We got to make them up. So why didn’t we choose sunset and darkness as the beginning? Why is January the first month of the year?

I continued staring out of the window, counting down the hours until I could crawl into bed and write in my journal, trying to convince myself that it wasn’t stupid, juvenile, or ridiculous to think about the metaphorical significance of traveling east at sunset. And soon the sky turned from purple to plum to navy, the stars began to appear, tiny pinpricks of bright white, and I went back to watching the speedometer, lulled into an almost meditative quiet by the rabidly changing numbers on the digital display.

In other news, sleeping in the bathtub isn’t all that bad if you’ve got a pillow and a blanket, and you somehow decided that it would be a good location to sleep when you woke up at three in the morning. (I spend a ridiculous amount of time sleeping in the bathroom when I shouldn’t. It’s quite strange, and I’m not sure why I seem to do it with such regularity. My bath mat and I seem to hang out together for a few minutes in the morning several times a week.)

In Which Ella Goes on an Aborted Hike

At around four o’clock today, I had this genius plan that I was going to go hiking in the reservation on the mountain behind my house and watch the sunset over the city. I got as far as the base of the trail, right next to Tal’s house, before realizing that walking around the woods on a dirt path next to the edge of a cliff alone in the dark would be a spectacularly bad idea. Besides, the sky was incredibly hazy and I could barely make out the buildings.

The sky just looked sickly and not at all as beautiful as it does on your average fall day. And when I looked down at all of the trees, I could only see how they were maimed–their prematurely departed leaves and missing branches. The sidewalks were lined with limbs, some had already been chopped up for collection, and others were still in their natural form, too newly dead to have their leaves brown and crinkly and their wood dry and brittle.

But then I found piece of a branch that looked like a pair of shorts and a bunch of brilliantly red leaves, and my aborted mountain hiking mission seemed like it had been worth something, after all.

In other news, I voted! I made my mom take a picture of me right outside of the polling location, the fire station, once I was done, but it turned out horribly. Every time I try to get her to take a picture of me it turns into me instructing her on how to operate the camera and then her taking really bad pictures of me. But because I find terrible pictures amusing and also very much appreciate exactly how AWFUL I look on four hours of sleep and no makeup or hair care. Also, I think that my unbuttoned second coat button is what really makes the picture.

For the month, you can find me updating my word count on NaNoWriMo here. (I need to do it more regularly so that it doesn’t become flat for a few days, only to receive an enormous spike, indicating that I somehow magically wrote about twelve thousand words in one day.)

And as always, you can also find me on tumblr at http://emleng93.tumblr.com/, if, you know, you’re into that kind of thing.