I get the sense kids are supposed to grow out of being afraid of the dark, but I've become more afraid. That my capacity for rational denial has grown as much as I have makes no difference, or possibly even feeds the irrational fear.
Not alone, none of this applies. Something about being together in the dark brings out both an invincible belief in the solitude of one's thoughts, and a confessional vulnerability.
"I'm so glad I'm walking with you two. If I were alone, I would've turned back a mile ago, back before the street lights ended."
If it's dark enough, one doesn't really feel the seperation of bodies. Cartesian self-awareness fades a bit. I the perceiver of that object over there gives way to I an echo in a soundscape.
Darkness with others is an escape, yet darkness alone is terrifying. "I thought you went walking out in the woods at night all the time. I was always really impressed."
"I did, but only because I was young and willful. It was no less frighteneing than it is to me now, I just wanted to resist that more. Once I walked to a spot a few miles from my house and stayed the night. I didn't sleep at all."
"You kept seeing animals in the shadows?"
"Just every little noise set me on edge."
He had been looking up to a fearless version of myself, just what I had been doing.
The director of the Tove Styrke "Even If I'm Loud It Doesn't Mean I'm Talking to You" video has opted to close-up on her mouth, cutting off her eyes with the frame for most of the running time. We're looking at her loudness. The lyrics are an (egotistical) attack on ego, or as she puts it, "I burst solitude." I'm still happily reeling, like that dizzyness I sometimes feel getting under a warm blanket, from a song that loudly addresses and accuses with a chorus of "but even if I'm loud it doesn't mean I'm talking to you."
On the walk that night I heard (that they heard) there's a blind man who can echolocate.
"I wonder if in a room full of people talking he can see even better."
We sighted have to visualize sonar, of course, and this blind man's handle on locating objects ruins our titilation of stumbling around in the dark. We felt a redemptive value in finding the trail by the feeling of the ground, because we didn't have to. He could've turned on his phone flashlight at any time. We could've walked under street lights.
Last night I dreamt my town was a music academy in an old wooden building with two rooms, one above the other. There was no insulation, so that in one classroom everything could be heard in the other. Everyone I knew was a student or a teacher. There were a lot of eyes to avoid, it was hopeless to try. At home I watched moving pictures--I'm not sure there was any sound.
In bed I often become convinced that there is a presence lurking in the dark bedroom. I always close the bedroom door because it closes off the hallway of unlit space that around the corner leads to more unlit space, doubly obscured by the wall. Yet the door, even unlocked, does not obscure anything beyond, does not lead to anything more. Yet it's a door. That's what it does.
At these times, I weigh my options: Do I lay unmoving (and thus possibly invisible), or reach through the blackness to turn on the light? I always weigh these options, but I always elect the latter. I look around the room, in which indeed there is nothing other than the door, the walls, the windows, and the laundry drying racks. I turn off the light.
The interior lights of the car have stopped working, so that driving to work requires me to step into the unknown. I get in and look behind me, into the barely visible backseat. Only once I have looked behind me, started the car, and driven up the driveway, do I turn on music. At this point the unknown has relocated, for reasons beyond my understanding, outside of the car. Many things by the side of the road appear to be figures: fire hydrants, street signs, trees, and nothing, if sufficiently far away. Every figure is a religious experience made banal. There are so many and they are all so expected that I would think their potency would dull, but it doesn't exactly, it just becomes routine, compartmentalized but not reduced.
Despite this I choose to walk alone at night in places without streetlights. There is one place, a shortcut across a small stream, where the nearby light gives way upstream to an empty field and a tangle of brambles and bushes. I'm always listening to music, and I don't turn it off, as if having been deprived of the usefulness of one my senses, I must do the same to another. I keep turning up the volume, which simultaneously distracts me from the terror of the dark and makes me more terrified of it. Someone could scream and I wouldn't hear it. Anything could be out there reporting its presence, and anything could be hidden in the shadows. I become totally complacent and intensely anxious.
For some years part of my ego was staked on a very short conversation in the dark. Finding myself alone with a boy backstage at the high school theater, I became nervous of not having anything to say. So I said "isn't that pretty?" and pointed the the rows of ropes on the side of the stage, lit dimly from behind. "You're weird," he said (can you hear the click of self-image locking into place?). Somehow this lead to him joking that people are more beautiful in the dark. "But they are," I said earnestly, thinking of particular people in particular dimly lit spaces. It's no wonder that theater techies have a reputation for promiscuity. They're a bunch of bodies in warm, dark, confined spaces. Boundaries are barely perceiptible.