Sunday, December 19, 2010

A Recounting of What Scares Me

Wednesday Late Afternoon
Falafel to go

Highway home

I wait at my red light, listening to the radio: classical choral Christmas music.

My traffic light goes green
and something is different in the air, though I couldn't pinpoint it then...
a horn sounds and
I proceed to go forward because green means go

and then out of the corner of my left eye I see what the honking was all about a nanosecond before:

an errant Toyota has run the red light with such speed
and it takes a mere fraction of a fraction of a second to realize that I will not escape its path:
it is on me before any more thoughts are born
There are no squealing tires, no stopping

I hear a sound quite like a gunshot
not sure if my eyes are open or closed, I spin and spin like a rollercoaster off its rails and hit something else that sends me forward with more force than my body has ever known.

Throughout all of this there are sounds, so many crashes and bangs and they are all grey as the dawn, and invisible. There is no music. My body has caved down into its barest survival...
there are no booming voices
no wings surrounding me
but this is happening right now and it's raw experience at its most violent

Penny lands in some foreign place, some parallel universe right next to the normal I expected.. uneven wheels rock gently on a new shore...

I open my eyes.
My left ear does not hear anything.
I look down at a scene which was not my car anymore, but a cage of bare wires and hanging plastic bits
glass everywhere
pale pink airbag blinds hang between me and many voices
my seat somehow strangely angled in toward my radio

my sunglasses are under my bottom, missing a lens
shattered glass in my cowboy boots

people screaming at someone unknown off to my far left, "You could have killed her!! What were you doing!!"

I look in my rearview mirror
to see if I am bleeding and my eyes are that of an animal:
terror and shock
blue with black pupils
face like a lace curtain

The airbag lifts as I claw at the door, hearing the pinging of my sensors all gone wrong, fearing something is burning

and some angel woman tells me to please sit still and asks me if I am ok...
I tell her I don't know
breathing too fast I don't know....

"I would like to eat my falafel," I tell her.

I go to look around for it, because it is all I can think of suddenly, my one link to what life was before this

and she tells me not to move my head
calls my husband for me
tells me what happened
that police are on their way
and then firemen
and an ambulance

When it is all over I am driven home by a nice officer
and I call my sister
and tell her that my first thought was fried chickpeas in a bag.

Comforting me, she explains that when she and her husband hit black ice and rolled their Jeep seven times in an early morning winter hell three years back
she had been eating Mentos

and when the car stopped, she got out in shock and began picking up the spilled white candies
one by one
in the snow


whose path would lead her back to before
that moment where something
was lost.

In the last few days I have been blessed to hear stories so like mine
told by women I love

and they all have a common thread of that strange thing you think of first
when you find yourself stranded in that weird place of medical shock:

mix CDs

I wanted to write this here because thinking about doing so made me terrified
and I know I have to face this down:

A scary thing must be folded over and over until it loses power and we realize we are all bound by commonalities of living

never alone in our weakness or our greatness
but stronger for our compassion and knitted together in moments
when we face our fears
head on:

a gentle crash of sorts
that ultimately frees us from
an icy grip of trauma.