I was in a car crash today that could have killed me, but I walked away without a scratch.
I was driving from my house in Pocono Lake, PA to go meet my friend BG for a 10-mile run through the trails in Tobyhanna State Park when my car slid into the shoulder, caught some loose gravel under the right tires, and left my control. It happened in an instant, like these things tend to do. The car actually picked up speed as I lost control. It was such a sunny day. That’s one of the main things I remember, how bright the sky was through my windshield as my car cut across the road and took flight. My thoughts, in quick succession: Oh shit. I can’t stop this. This is gonna happen. It’s gonna be bad. Oh god please keep me safe. A huge SMASHBAM as my front tire hit a boulder and the car winged up with a frightening whir of the engine. Help. And my car was spinning, flipping through the air and I was sure I was going to die, my body crushed within my crappy Toyota Corolla. Ohgodno. It was still so fucking sunny, it didn’t make any sense–isn’t peril always accompanied by darkness, thunder, and obscurity? Help. Then: CRASHTINKLE as my car landed on its right side and the passenger side windows exploded at the impact. My eyes were squeezed shut why I don’t know but I didn’t see the windows burst, I just heard it. And then, stillness. I laid into my horn, hoping it would summon help. I put the car in park to shut up the whining engine. Strains of Froggy 101 came at me through the radio; I might have tried to turn off the ignition but it wouldn’t comply. More horn.
I was hanging in my car, buckled in. I tried to open my door but it was jammed. I could put the window down; the slow, predictable descent of the window was ridiculous. I looked around; there was my phone! I grasped to stabilize myself so I didn’t tumble once the seat belt was unlatched. Nothing hurt, I wasn’t bleeding, I didn’t stop to question the implausibility. I unbuckled myself and put my feet on the ground, where the passenger window should have been. I grabbed my phone, and hauled myself out of the car through the drivers’ side window. I called 911, a stranger pulled over and stayed with me. As I was on the phone my legs started quaking and I crumpled to the ground, in shock. Help. It wasn’t until later that I realized how funny I must have looked in my blue running shorts, green running jacket and pigtails, blinking and stunned, standing in knee-high weeds at the side of Locust Ridge Road. I called BG, told him I was in an accident and wouldn’t be able to make the run, winning the award for understatement of the year.
The EMTs arrived, Jason and Jennifer. Jason took my info and Jennifer took my blood pressure. 120/80. She was amazed. I said, I’m a runner. Then the police, security from the nearest community association, and the fire department all arrived. They wanted to know how the accident happened, and how I was alive. I was clearly on an adrenaline high because I started cracking jokes and telling funny stories. Every cop, fireman and emergency professional kept telling me I was the luckiest girl alive and they were taking me to Vegas, that the kind of accident I had never results in the driver walking away from the scene. My radio was still going strong even though the engine had shut itself off, and the rescue crew loved the fact that “Chicken Fried” by Zac Brown Band was humming out of the speakers.
I thought of LV, who was asking me just the other day if I believed in a god. I might have to revise my answer. I thought of the blog post I wrote just last night, in which I said I hated luck as an explanation. I might have to temper that opinion. I thought perhaps there had been some sort of guardian angel at work who made my accident the least terrible kind of accident. I could be dead, but I am alive. I wanted to fall into someone’s arms for a great big hug, have them hold me and whisper into my hair, “Shh, everything is alright, you are safe, I got you.”
BG arrived, my Good Samaritan running buddy who aborted his run and came to see what he could do. He kept me company as they dragged my car out of the foliage, and drove me to my house to dump the random items the EMTs had salvaged from the car. He drove me to the hospital, because a headache and a bit of nausea had set in and I wanted to be double-sure I was alright. Then he drove me to the drug store for Aleve and prescription drugs, and to the garage to get the rest of my items out of the smashed up car. Finally he dropped me at home, and texted me later asking if I needed him to drop off dinner. I am so grateful for his assistance, for his calm helpfulness and concern–I don’t know how I could ever pay him back but maybe one day I’ll have the chance to pay it forward.
Once back at my house in Pocono Lake, I called the insurance company, called Enterprise Rent-A-Car, called my parents, called Husband. I walked the dog, and was feeling restless and freaked out so I called EN. Then my brother called me. Every time I told the story I would start crying, frightening myself all over again and reliving the shock that I am alive and not in the hospital stuck full of tubes. Crazy gratitude to my guardian angel (I didn’t even know I had one!!), crazy gratitude to the universe. I feel humbled: I deserve this life, I should stop complaining, someone “up there” is willing to shift the air pockets in my favor when things are looking truly grim, so that I fall on my side instead of on my head. Perhaps a slight reassessment is in order; we’ll see. Right now? I am weak in the knees and strong in my will.