What is it about the freeway at night that I like so much? Those who know me well are often taken aback when I say anything about how much I like to drive. Especially at night. Whenever I find myself in a fitful, troubled mood, as often as not it's the open road that calms me down.
Portland is veined with a slender net of freeways; I-5 running roughly parallel to the Willamette River, south to north; I-205 that branches east from I-5 and then continues north as well; I-84 bisecting I-5 to the east and Hwy. 26 likewise to the west; and the small belt of I-405 that donuts around the downtown core on the west bank of the Willamette.
Best thing to do, when I'm restless and heady with portentous ideas, is to drop into gear and just drive, sorting it all out from behind my dashboard.
I suppose I like driving at night because I'm less likely to break things than in daylight. Yesterday I busted up the van I drive for the children's theatre I now work for: in my defense, the traffic barrier was well below my line of sight, and this van is pretty beat up already. But I might have done some serious damage to the alignment or the transmission train or some such; none of the gear readings in the dashboard dial correspond to the actual gear the van happens to be in at any given time anymore. And the steering wheel is pretty broadly innaccurate, too. We're taking the van into the shop on Thursday. Fortunately, when you're as experienced as I am in breaking things, you learn to take these matters in stride.