The sun didn’t come out. The dawn didn’t break over the desert mountains in the east. There wasn’t any spectacular, dazzling blast of brightness that jolts early morning risers into consciousness. Regardless of any poems or Broadway songs promising that “the sun will come out tomorrow,” the sun didn’t come out.
Surely, humans have been promised the sun. Without it, we wouldn’t exist. We have gotten used to it. We accept it as a fact. However, without realizing it, we treat the sun as an insignificant entitlement, with condescension and indifference, much the same as a person treats a spouse with whom they have become disinterested. Maybe the sun has feelings, perhaps a feeling of insecurity. Perhaps it feels trivialized and because of our apathy, the sun has lost interest in us. Maybe we only deserve a petulant sun. Maybe not. Maybe nature and the Gods lied to us and have kept the sun for themselves. And then again, maybe it is just the tenth day of overcast.
At three thousand feet there is a cloud or fog or a marine layer which has been laying horizontally blocking out the sun. Who or whatever controls that layer must have been playing poker with the sun and having won a big pot has decided to punish and humiliate it for poor card playing. Hence, we have no sun.
We put up with this dreary overcast yesterday, and nine others were the same. In any case, there is light, some kind of light, it is a grey light but with a lack of sun there are no shadows, everything stands as a meaningless shapeless blob without a black frame.
Lacking an evil alarm clock in the bedroom and with my only time-telling device on the chest of drawers, I walk to the door which opens onto a tiny patio and try to perceive whether I have slept in or is it early morning? Without the sun this blasted grey light tells me nothing.
With my apologies to the residents of the Northwest, the rumor is that Seattle has grey skies for 900 days a year and that it is only broken by drizzle for 400 of those days. The lack of vitamin D from the sun supposedly makes Seattle the suicide capital of the world. This must be a rumor because you can’t prove it by me. The many times I have crossed the city’s boundaries the weather has always been sunny and bright. The occupants of the area tell me, “Come back anytime and bring the good weather with you.”
Lately, other of nature’s promises have also been broken. There was no moon last night. It couldn’t break through the miasma. Sure it got dark, but there was no spectacular western sunset over the Pacific Ocean. It slowly went from light grey, to medium grey, to dark grey and without fanfare it was just night. No thunderstorm with lightning and thunder, no wind whipping, no vampires, no werewolves, no monsters or boogeymen of the night, just weak, insipid, colorless gloom. The night has yet to be nasty enough to be frightening; it has yet to muster up the foreboding that mystery writers create to kill off the unsuspecting private eye. There is dampness lying on the ground, but it didn’t come from rain or dew or fog; that would have been a welcome change of pace, a relief… but no, this dankness could be worn by Edgar Allen Poe as a burial shroud.
This morning is the same. The sun didn’t come out and my coffee tastes as bland as the half-light outside the kitchen window. Eggs, bacon are as tasteless and unappealing as the coffee. Hot Mexican salsa, onions and Tabasco sauce liberally attack the plate, but they help little.
In the mirror I shave and see that my skin has taken on a sickening pallor, turning an unpleasant shade of grey to match the lifeless vagueness of light outside.
The summer was strange with an opposite direction. It was excessively hot for months. But I dealt with it. Now, I have to admit, this murky, shadowless gloom has me down.
At 3:00 a.m. I rise from my casket like Dracula, dress for the night, ready to do battle with the oblivion of the overcast. I enter the garage. One of the reasons I bought a motorcycle was to put some spice in my life. Its job was to keep me from the doldrums, keep me out of a psychiatrist office and remind me that life was a place of extremes. A motorcycle is a machine to transport the rider to places unknown, to deliver the rider to those places of immoderate abandonment. Its reason for existence is to cart me away from despair and into a world of vitality and energy. For a million miles it has accomplished this. Whenever I have asked, it has taken me away from the mundane and deposited me into the exotic.
OK, it’s time for a motorcycle to do its job. You rescued me last summer from the heat; now it is time to resurrect me again.
At 3:00 a.m. a motorcycle owns the road. It is by itself. Mine heads east, east to the sunrise. If I can get out from under this horizontal cloud, somewhere east of here the sun will rise in a glorious explosion and when it does I will be there.
At Chiriaco Summit, I stop and wait. I am well into the desert at a high spot where I can see forever. There are just a few dim minutes before dawn.
And then it happens. The sun crests the rim of an unknown mountain, and a laser of red and yellow fills the sky. It is the promise of the sun renewed. It is the breath of life that has eluded me for two hundred miles. It sparks a smile, and I walk a short distance from the motorcycle and sit against a large rock to absorb the reflected warmth.
I rest there until the entire sky is bright. The sun is blinding with its religion. It fills me with renewed hope, and I spend the entire day soaking up its ceremonial rites.