It wasn’t the view from the mountains in Utah, when I looked in my rear-view mirror to see the flatlands I’d traversed, far away and quiet beneath a desperate sun, and behind big brother mountains trying to steal the show.
It wasn’t the night as I passed through Colorado approaching the Rockies, as the mountains loomed in the pitch-blackness and the sky rained down more shooting stars, clear as the others, and clear as the lights nesting below them, more shooting stars than I’d ever seen in the rest of my life combined.
It wasn’t the frost growing on my windshield and windows in floral crystals, up in the mountains of Vail, a town pretty and quiet, alone in the night.
And it wasn’t the sudden white-out of snow kicked up from the powder for no more than thirty seconds.
It was the clouds. Only twenty or so feet above my head, the clouds lay frozen. The wind didn’t blow them, and they could not be mistaken for the clouds high above looking like cotton, nor could they be mistaken for the fog which shrouds everything evenly. These silk webs had been draped ever-so-carefully over the roofs and streetlamps, lumpy in spots perhaps, but unmoving. They braced like mosquito nets, and lay perfectly still despite the wind, right above me.
It was their stillness that struck me at my core, as I feared in that moment that I had entered a timeless place from whose grasp I might never escape.
Of all the things I saw that day, it was the clouds that scared me most of all.