I was in a car crash.
A couple of years ago I was in a car accident. It was a close call. My very first car Bertha, was a write off. As was the light pole on the freeway my car took out before turning on its side and skidding along the grass verge before stopping and rolling gently back on to its wheels.
Or was it the war?
No. It. Was. Wild.
As those seconds passed spinning around before the pole, I was thinking: this is it. Then as car crunched the pole with an exact example of what ‘bang’ means, my inner monologue consisted of ‘shiiiiiiiiiiiii’. This is important. There was no life-film rolling before me, there was no profound moment of acceptance or even fear. I held onto the wheel as everything was thrown around, eyes open.
Then it stopped. For a moment the tape player continued (Bertha the Mirth Mobile was an old car). I flicked the ceiling light on to see the damage, realised the engine was still going and tried to get out. Couldn’t. The driver’s side door was bent out of shape and stuck fast. I freed myself from the seatbelt, before launching myself over the hand brake and passenger’s side seat covered in chips of broken glass and out the door. I have never moved as quickly before or since. Then I started screaming for someone, anyone, to stop.
I’ve never been quite the same
There are a few things I learned that morning. I learned about the effects of adrenalin. I learned there are kind and helpful people who will stop and raise the alarm and yet remain completely anonymous. Thank you Mr Man, whoever you were.
You can watch the humans trying
On the radio my accident was described as a ‘pole down’ on the freeway, thus this massive personal incident was deemed a slight inconvenience to the great horde of commuters. I learned the reason drivers must wear shoes is that in an accident, feet get hurt. I was thrown around so much that I had bruises almost everywhere. Especially my feet. And I had shoes on. And I learned some bruises don’t go away.
I learned that the best way to cope is to not stop doing. The same day my house mate drove me to collect my stuff from the wrecker’s, I practised driving her car and she took me to the doctor to log my various cuts and such. I learned thinking is the enemy. Action is the best remedy. Even though it hurts. Because it hurts. And knowing I’m a wallower my house mate forced me to do stuff. I was saved from myself. Thank you.
…like ‘I was there’
I’m also slightly disappointed my possible last thought was as mundane as it was. As a writer, as someone attempting to create worlds and atmospheres with words, my imagination failed. But that’s how life is. Sometimes it’s magnificent and bursting full of colour and grandeur that cries out for descriptive fidelity and other times, it knocks you around and all you can say is shiiii.
But the words never change
And again, life isn’t narrative. It’s anecdote. The above makes for something to say here, but I’m not sure it’ll make it to any book. And even here I’ve shaped it, emphasised some aspects over others, left bits out, just for my intended impact. As we all do. Anecdotes are amenable to shaping and editing because our memories are. What was my point?
This is not a story. It was my accident.
We are not romantics
The word accident implies no purpose. Random or meaningless. But it shook me up and life got my attention. I changed. A bit. I started writing properly again. I enrolled in a course, and lost some weight. I’m not saying I’m fixed or anything, I didn’t have any epiphany. But I needed something. And I got something. Of course it didn’t stop bad things happening a year later, but those surgeries are an anecdote for another time, perhaps:)
You wouldn’t believe the things they do
I wonder what my mother thought as she faced her accident. What were her last thoughts? Were they as mundane as mine? Or were they the most important things she’d thought, since she didn’t survive? I guess I’ll never know. People can and do go crazy wondering why about why. Why I survived, why she didn’t. Why my car slid on the grass, when if it had slid on the gravel it would’ve exploded. I think about how the sale of her assets got me the money for that car. And sometimes I think about why the motorbike driver my mum was with didn’t see the truck. Why, why, why.
Until the sun cries morning°
If this was a story I would offer up some important truth wrapped up in something a bit poetic about now. All I can say is that my mother’s death stopped in my tracks. Sort of, in different ways and for years. Now, in my own way, I’m doing again. It took an accident that brought me to a full stop in the middle of doing 100kms an hour to get momentum gaining, again. Stuff will happen more and more and I know I won’t need crashes for me to see it.
°Lyrics from Down in the Park, Gary Numan. A post-apocalyptic post-punk number about the fear of technology or some such. Go listen.