I woke up at about 3:10. He drove the car, me riding shotgun, drying my recently-showered hair and picking the small residual pieces of skin out of the inside corners of my eyes.
I saw people drinking soju in the orange huts on the sidewalk as we drove onto the ramp.
At 3:30, the roads were damp and foggy as if the light of the previous day had not yet faded, and I could only see twenty feet ahead of me. The roads were almost empty until we reached the highway, where we met fellow conspirators whose cars seemed to smile and wag antennas at the joy of being alive at such an fresh time. We all were in a fluid dance, a delayed canon full of morning rituals; shift lanes from left to right, press emergency lights for sudden turns, shift lanes, accelerate. Repeat. The only radio talk host awake put on Radiohead's 'There There' as we slid into the dark gaping arch of a tunnel, no darker than the early morning outside. We were in a delicate shell that would break at the touch of a voice, and we took care to breathe lightly.
A yellow hue started to make its way into the shadows of my body. The wrinkles of my hand turned into detailed maps of a lifetime. As the lights passed by, I watched the curved exoskeletons of nearby cars swallow those yellow lights into small black holes of dents and curves, and I saw them leap ahead in wild delight, as if I could almost feel the harsh and satisfying bite of the asphalt, myself.
From then was a straight drive above this city, watching the tops of sleeping office buildings and feeling the quiet that had settled loosely over everything like a 'to be continued' sign, echoing sequels to come and suns to rise. We began to leave the fog behind, and our nimble cadence turned into a long and graceful curve that weaved peacefully between apartments and skyscrapers, shifting gently above water, looping in large circles, and touching the surface for an instant before rising to meet the vast stretch of a suspended bridge. The lights were still on.
The white dotted lanes, the gray lampposts, the yellow lights, and the black asphalt all seemed to converge at one point far ahead, still in the crisp dark gray of the deep night. I opened my window and the cold wind whipped my face apart with a sharp ruthlessness and a clear freedom that seemed to speak in foreign tongues, whispering syllables in my ears and tugging longingly at my hair. The dark seemed to give way to light gray as we passed through it; we were the brushes of transition, the giving point of a gradient that was always in the middle of a curve. Always in transit, always changing, never moving, never stopping.
We picked her up from her flight, and drove back home. The light gray slowly gave way to a regular bright, gleaming morning. When all the highway lights went out, our eyes saw nothing but the blue of the road and the instant black of the sky, and there were more cars then before, this time with muted colors that seemed more like shades of gray than anything else. The cold wind was now reluctant, and even though the wind was cool and refreshing, I didn't open the windows. We turned on the AC instead.
By the time we got back home-- by the time we returned, we were back. They were still drinking.