On Wednesday, April 30 at 2:50 pm, I was traveling on interstate 695 at 55 mph when I was struck by a pickup truck. I was at a point in the road where interstate 97 merges into 695, and the truck crossed the medium dividing the two roads and made an illegal lane change a few feet in front of me in order to illegally access an exit on 695. It had been raining, so I breaked as much as I could without hydroplaning and swerved to soften the inevitable impact.
We collided, skidded two lanes of traffic, and hit a safety wall. When we finally stopped, I turned off my car, and stared at the wall we had just hit. I was shaking so hard that my body was visibly twitching. My driver’s side door wouldn’t open the full way but, the other driver got out and asked me if I was okay. I said yes, called my mom, and then a police officer opened my door and asked me if I needed an ambulance.
It was the most surreal moment of my life, sitting in my car, the front end crunched against a safety wall, and a police officer holding my door open asking me if I needed medical attention. I got out of the car and saw the damage, and finally the rain just started pouring down on us, thunder rolling in the distance. I watched the cars pass us, rain soaking my clothes, a police officer asking me what happened, and all I could think was that I was going to be late to class.
Shock – like how could this be me? How am I still standing? How is it raining this damn hard?
My parents took me back to their house, and I was there for the next five days, dealing with insurance, buying a new car, and trying to get past the trauma of being struck on a highway and walking away unhurt.
Then on Sunday, May 4, 2014 at 1:00 pm, I was running in a 25 mph zone in a neighborhood. I heard the sound of an engine revving behind me through my iPod, the sound of tires squealing, and an large crash. I turned around to watch a pickup truck swerve in the spot where I had just been running a few feet behind me. Right next to me, the car that had been hit had turned all the way around and was idling right next to me.
The back passenger door was so heavily impacted that the door couldn’t be opened, and the woman driving got out. I asked her if she was okay, and she told me she had a baby. Then, I heard the crying.
I looked in the backseat where the car had been hit and, a car seat was right next to the impact. The door was crunched in right up to the car seat, and the three month old baby was screaming.
It was at this moment, looking at that baby, passenger door broken, mother desperately trying to get to the car seat, my legs shaking from the realization that if I had been three seconds slower than I would have been roadkill, I wondered what the hell was happening in my life.
I managed to calm the mother and the other driver down, and directed a neighbor to call 911. The baby and mother were fine, and an ambulance took them away. Then, when all was said and done, I called my parents to come get me. Another round of panic. Another round of shock. Another round of tears.
And today, I have to return to the real world. I have to go back to driving on the interstate. I have to go to class. I have to graduate. I have to keep living my life. I have to act like my life wasn’t changed the minute that pickup made such a massive mistake, the minute I realized I was almost killed while running, the minute I had to comfort a mother as her infant sat in the back seat, unreachable. I have to keep going.
I will be taking a break from this blog. I need time and space, and right now, this blog is the least of my priorities. I don’t know how long I’ll be gone or if I’ll ever come back. Maybe I’ll be back in two weeks or a month, but I can’t say for sure. I just need a break. Time. Space. Safety. I just need to go a few days without my life being endangered, without the smell of burning rubber, and the sound of metal contorting. Just a little bit of time. Just a few seconds. A breath, really. Just a minute to catch my breath – to live with the things that I’ve survived – to move on. To be.