A Night Ride - 12.07.98

Late one evening, during my freshman year of college, I had one of those figgity nights like everyone that goes to college has once in awhile. I had finished my homework for the next day of classes and everyone I knew seemed to be studying themselves, or simply gone. After awhile of goofing around in my room and playing time-waster video-games on my computer, I looked out the window and saw that there was a full moon shining brightly on the clear night.

As if it somehow fueled my behavior for strangeness, I suddenly felt the urge to go somewhere, anywhere outside. I opened the window and felt the crisp air and decided that I should probably bundle up a bit more before heading out. I put on my heavy coat, gloves, and my headphones on under a stocking cap. After popping a tape into the walkman and clipping it on my back pocket, I grabbed my skateboard and decided to go out for a late night cruise about.

I met a few people as I was riding through campus, but I didn't really pay much attention to them. I was already feeling slightly euphoric and my senses were occupied. Even though I had my thick coat on, I could feel the wind seeping through slightly and whenever I exhaled, clouds of vapor bellowed out of my mouth and streamed off behind me. The only thing that I could hear was the slowly pulsing music that I had placed in the player earlier and the slight clicking of my wheels moving over the cracks in the pavement. It was the soundtrack to my lazy skateboarding down the deserted sidewalks.

As often as I could without falling over, I looked up through the trees and at the moon. There wasn't a cloud in the sky and it was so bright that it seemed to cast shadows, even in the dark. I glided out into the street, and even though it wasn't particularly lit well, I could still see perfectly. My eyes had adjusted to this new light, and everything seemed to be bathed in cool, dark blues.

I pushed back up onto the sidewalk and felt the tension that had been rising in me all night dissipating into the continuous clickClickclick of my wheels and the layer of music over them. Still, the serenity of the whole situation wasn't enough to make me forget just how cold it was. With quite a bit of effort, I stuffed my gloved hands into the front pockets on my coat and decided to continue on for just a bit further.

I rolled down a block and around a corner into a small and very poorly lit park. I could see moonlight glinting off of a small slide, a merry-go-round, and a couple swings of different lengths. The sidewalk wound through the park and came out the other side after going down a slight incline and through a small, covered picnic area.

As I was cruising down the hill toward the enclosure and picking up a little more speed, I realized that I had lost track of the moon. I looked up and found it off to my right, hidden almost completely by the trunk of a thick tree.

Satisfied, I looked back down to gauge my path into the enclosure, but in the second that I had turned away, I had come across something I hadn't calculated for.

I hit the slightly raised crack just before I reached the edge of the enclosure, and didn't really have time to react. It was hidden in the shadow of the overhang, and the first thing I knew, my skateboard was stopped completely, but I was still moving forward with a fair amount of momentum.

I tried desperately to put my hands out and catch myself, but either my gloves were too large or my pockets were too small and all I could do was make a stifled yelp as my body and head rushed towards the pavement. Then it went completely dark.

The next thing I knew, I woke up and my senses seemed to be numbed. My face was pressed against the cold concrete and my stocking cap had slightly fallen off. Even when my eyes came back into focus and I rolled over onto my back, I still couldn't see anything. I had landed inside the enclosure and there was no light from the moon entering inside it. My hands were still firmly jammed into my pockets, and both of my elbows, as well as my knees and jaw felt bruised. I could feel a small, hot spot on my face where the skin had been broken slightly by the fall.

The next thing I noticed was that it was almost completely quiet. I sat up and moved my hands about on the ground until I had scooped up my walkman and the batteries and cassette that had popped out of it. The hinged door was slightly disjointed and the headphone plug had come undone as well.

The cold had set into my body, and it was harder than ever to move with the soreness from the impact. I finally pulled my hands out of my pockets and replaced them with the various parts of my inoperative walkman before standing up and walking back out into the moonlight. I found my skateboard just outside the enclosure, still resting against the crack that had brought it to such an abrupt stop.

Things started coming back into complete focus as they had before I had crashed. I again looked up at the moon and blew a few puffs of breath into the air to try and get myself ready for the ride home.

I flipped the skateboard around and started pushing up the slight incline with a renewed vigor. The cold had really set in while I had been motionless, and I hoped that I could warm up a bit with some activity. Without headphones on, the loud clickClickclick of the wheels over the sidewalk was the only thing I could hear. Their loud, steady noise seemed to clear my head even more than before and I once again felt alert and relaxed and better able to perceive larger than normal cracks in the path.