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Night flights on altitude zero are kinda hobby for me, a kind of stress relief.
Sitting behind the wheel, listening to Go your own way, I want to know what love is, Radar love or somthing in the same style, smoking cigarettes, drinking coke, it just gives my restless mind a place to relax.
It is just great, the open road in front, a small beam of light from my headlights, absolute darkness.
I know my car, i know most major autobahnen, driving works automatically. My cellphone is turned off, i am not part of society for the moment, just removed from anyone's reachability for the moment. Time to think about things that were and things that may come. Or should not come.
Time to sort my emotions, analyze long or not-so-long lost loves, think about my relationship or my lonelyness
After nightfall in the cold winter months, people in Portland like to hole up. By 8:00 pm, the roads are all but empty. There are cars still meandering around, but there is no wait at a red light. There is no obstruction to keep you from breaking the speed limit.

But, you don't want to. Everything seems so calm and peaceful. There is no rush to get where you're going. The scene outside is almost magical. The air is still and cold, but you do not feel its bite, for you are within your private kingdom of plastic and metal. The dim, orange incandesence of the street lights casts a surreal tint on the roads. Back Cove is a wavering vision of the darkness of the sea at night, contrasted by the reflection of the sleeping city on the opposite shore. By day, the wind ruffles the leaves of the trees. People stroll around the greenway. Cars rush to their destinations. Now, though, the pressure is gone. Fellow motorists are few and far between.

In the absence of stress and noise, the little soothing ambiance that you would not normally notice comes to life. The purr of the engine, mimicking your own relaxation as you do not demand it work overtime, your foot steady and unmoving in gently depressing the accelerator. The soft hiss of the warm air seeping through the vents. The quiet, hushed intonation of a nighttime radio announcer on NPR, barely audiable.

You could gun the engine. You could tune to the hip-hop station and blare rap music. You would do these things if it were midday, but somehow, you are not in the mood. Society has decided to let you be. You are one with the car, the road, and your fellow night brethren, all coalescing slowly through the city toward their inevitable destination, yet all savoring their momentary peace of mind.

One night in December during my senior year of high school, my mother had some kind of committee meeting and my father was drinking. Actually this happened a lot, but it only drove me out of the house this one time, because my brother was out somewhere too.

Mom was getting ready to go, piling up papers or books or something, her movements quick and angry, and Dad was shouting, taunting her. He was saying something about some woman who was "so damn sexy." I was watching them in the kitchen. Big soft snowflakes were coming down in the dark. Finally Mom walked out, her stonelike eyes fixed ahead; she didn't say anything to me. The dinner dishes were still in the kitchen. Dad was in the living room shouting back at some loud music on the stereo; his glass tumbler jumped on the coffee table every time he pounded the rhythm with his fist. My shoes were in my bedroom, in the basement, so I slipped out the kitchen door in only my stocking feet in the snow.

The car I always used that year was a 1967 Cutlass Supreme, a big two-door with a real screw-you interior -- metal and hard plastic on the dash, steering column aimed at your heart, lap belt only. The accelerator and brake pedals were sharp-edged metal squares with hard rubber caps that kept falling off. I felt the cold square of the brake pedal through my wet sock as I backed the car out onto the street and drove away, intending to return after Dad lost consciousness.

My sock kept sticking to the metal brake pedal. I had to keep wiggling my toes. The lights made stars in the ice crystals and frozen droplets on the windshield. They were Christmas lights. I drove around and around Sugarhouse Park and the commercial district near the freeway. The sugar in the original sugar-house must have been made from beets. When the Mormons first reached the Salt Lake Valley there were no maple trees, certainly never any cane fields. The sugary snow was twinkling. I don't know how I guessed the right amount of time to stay away. When I came home I couldn't hear him singing any more. I didn’t look for him. It was a little like giving up.

I always kept a large sharp pair of scissors under my pillow anyway. They were mostly for breaking my window and tearing out the screen in case he came to kill me. I never actually tried this but I think it would have worked. Mom wasn't home yet. She must have come in after I went to sleep.

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