Thursday, April 5, 2012

Why haven't I started taking a Bus?


Saturns have flexible bumpers so if you hit a kid, the kid will likely survive.
My Saturn could be the subject of a film on The Lifetime Channel For Women.

Women, and some men, grab your puffs and read at your own risk.

She was my first new car ever. I never thought I would ever even condsider buying a new car because the minute you do, if you look behind you as you drive off the dealer's lot, dollars bills are literally flying off the car. It's true! It's called "OMG! My car is instantly losing value!" I had always driven Hondas. I had string of Hondas. My first Honda was given to me by my parents. It was also their first new car which they replaced with a Chrysler. My Honda's name was "Betsy." Betsy and I were driving down Pacfic Avenue South one day and a man failed to yield while turning left. I had idea cars could bounce so much when they collide.

We hit so hard it totalled both of our cars. He got the citation, I got an ambulance ride, and I was fine. Betsy was not. She was toast. Along came Honda deux. Aptly named, she was Betsy two. My apologies to the next vehicle, I am so old I cannot remember what happened to her. I do remember Sylvia, the silver hatchback Honda. Sylvia was named after the poet Sylvia Plath which is quite dramatic actually. Plath herself was dramatic and her poetry is dramatic. More startling to me is only one person ever made the connection between her name and the poet. Sylvia suffered the most damage of any car I have ever owned. On September 19, 1991, a drunk driver named Patrick Walsh failed to slow down during a traffic accident which was ahead of us on Highway 101 near the Black Lake exit in Olympia, Washington.

I did slow down and looked in my rearview mirror. I did not see my life flash before my eyes, I saw his 1949 Ford pick-up truck fish tailing and headed right towards me. In short, I knew I was about to get hit and hit hard. One's natural flight or fight system kicks in at a time such as this. I looked to the left, but there was nowhere to go but into other cars. I looked to the right, and well, I had the option of driving off an enbankment. So I just started sreaming. I was screaming and stiff and screaming. Mr. Walsh hit the right rear of my bumper first, which sent me sliding into the left lane. A yellow semi-truck was moving slowly past mehit me and crushed the left side of my vehicle. It happened within seconds.

Afterwards, I tried to get out of the car. A nurse appeared out of nowhere. My driver's side window was open. She said, "Don't get out!" I was frantically trying to get out of the car. "Don't move. You have been hit so hard you need to sit still." I really wanted out of that car. I unfastened my seatbelt and released the emergency break. I could not get out of the driver's side of the car because it was so smashed. People appeared out of nowhere. They were removing chopped wood from the back, roof and hood of my car. One piece of wood had shattered my windshield but oddly, not my head. My tape recording of "The Black Crowes" was still playing. It was their infamous song titled "Jealous." In fact, my car was still running. I released the emergency brake and crawled over to the other side against the advice of the nurse. I was not hysterical, but oddly very calm. I was desperately thirsty. I wandered around the massive pile up asking for water. I got lost in a crowd of people who had piled up all over the highway because of Mr. Walsh.

Another Evergreen State College student walked up to me and threw her arms around me. "Your car hit my car! We are alive! We are all alive!" People were hugging each other in a dasiy chain of love and survival. We really were all alive. I was in genuine shock. I was still desperately seeking water. Amazingly, the EMTs said no due to potential internal organ damage, but I refused to go the ER and no one insisted I go. So I went to a seminar at Evergreen. I walked in and must have looked ghastly. The tow truck driver dropped me off at the campus.

My classmates asked me why I was so pale. "Oh I just got hit by a drunk driver." Some of them said, "What? Why are you here? We are taking you to the hospital!" One quite odd classmate said, "One day you will understand why the energy you put out drew that car to you." I was too out of it to reply. Another classmate said, "Alison is an angel and that is why she survived." I had the biggest crush on him. Never mind that, three classmates took me to the ER. The x-ray technician asked me what I do in my spare time. I replied, "Normally I move my head but I can't seem to do that right now." Meanwhile a friend had seen my car completely crushed and on the side of the freeway. She called my parents. I did not call my parents. For hours they had been desperately trying to find out if I was okay. People didn't have cell phones in 1991. I didn't even think to call them.

My mum is prone to flinging her arms in the air while panicking. We share this trait. However, I was still in so much shock I was still calm. I walked into their then apartment and mum said, "OMG! Lisa called us and it has been hours. We called all the hospitals and could not find you. OMG! Are you okay." I said, "I guess so." The next morning I notice a bruise going down my chest from the seatbelt. I could not move my head. It hurt so much I thought I was going to die. I did not quit graduate school. I kept going. Between physical therapy sessions, I carpooled with three classmates. They were so kind. I definitely had post-trauma. They let me put my head in their laps and cry. I was terrified of freeways. In fact, to this day, I scream in terror on freeways. It's true that at one juncture I decided Mr. Walsh was not going to ruin my life. I forced myself onto the freeway.

But back to serendipity, my Saturn. She has been hit five times when I have not even been in the car. Five times. I must be cursed. No, it is insane to think I am cursed. I was not even in the car when she got hit. I am not insane. Okay, I am insane. Yesterday was the first time in ten years she broke down. Ten years! None of this makes sense. Life does not make sense. If one tries to make sense out of life, well, good luck with that. I mean it. I am still alive. For now. And nothing makes sense. -AW

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