August 21, 2004

Action movies

I've been to three action movies this week, and I've read five fantasy novels. It's been one of the busiest weeks of my life, and I haven't had a lot of sleep. I'm not dreaming at night, at least that I remember. It's the evenings I'm trying to obliterate. The Big Cheese visit was this past Tuesday. He and his entourage were more horrible than over email or phone. But they didn't scare me like they should have. That's because on Tuesday morning I barely made it to work. I was driving. Usually I bike, but I knew it would be a long, long day. I gave up the ride in the morning so I wouldn't have to slog back up the Hill that night. It was like a little gift to myself. Then someone turned left illegally and hit my car.

We moved the cars, talked to each other, I'm okay, you're okay. She had the brains to call the cops. All I could see in the back page of my head was her face through my window and her windshield and the impact on the ass end of my car. But there wasn't a scratch on the bumper. Nothing. Her bumper was almost clean off, and the cops had to tie it back on. Then, paperwork, witness, vehicle accident report. Bumper debris spinning in the road. I got in my car. "Are you okay to drive?" And I said I was and the cop pointed out the front wheel of my car, driver's side, showed me how it wasn't vertical, showed me the scratches on my door. I said, "Is it normal for people not to realise where they were hit?" He said that it all happens so fast. I drove the car a block holding the wheel at an angle. I stopped, went back, said, "I have to hold the wheel like this," showing them with my hands. They said, of course. It's all bent where her bumper hit it.

I walked back. I got in. Cried hard. They came, said, "Are you okay to drive? We noticed you weren't moving?" I said three things, two unecessary, "It's the most important day of my career. I have to brief the B.C. at eleven. I figured if I was going to cry I should do it before I drove." They were so fucking kind. They followed me all the way to work so that, every time I changed a lane, cringing at the rest of the traffic and the stupid things that drivers pull in D.C. because the roads are so bad, I saw the cruiser in my mirror like a warm hard white whale protecting me.

That thing where people say you just keep seeing the accident in your head, like a layer of film over everything else you see afterwards, the picture on pause, it's true. It's happened to me before. Staring at each other, while her car hit mine like a phantom behind me, instead of right at my feet where the actual damage is. Eyes and slam (no noise).

After you get hit by a car, you wake up and you numb down. On Tuesday that meant that I wasn't scared of any of them, no matter how disgusting they were as people and how they tried to intimidate, because nothing matters after you've been in a car crash. And because I know people can be nice, even in the middle of terrible events.

I think it's rarely necessary to judge people. I'm very very critical, but that final step of saying, "She's a loser," or, "he's really special," frightens me. It leaves no room for change. Losers sometimes win, and special people can fall. Things change, right? If I believe that, it means that I have a chance of changing, getting clearer, finding serenity. Something. But I believe there are right ways to be. I've seen people in tragedy remain giving ("and now, what's going on in your life?" and wiping the tears away). I've seen people lose their minds with fear of everyone but remain gentle. I've seen people transcend years of bad treatment and become healers. But other people, like the B.C., take a thing like power and become totally ungrateful. It's always a struggle to figure out what the right thing to do is -- to traverse the terrible terrain of our mystifying, deadly world, and try to be better than we even believe we are capable of being.

Cops can be nice to a frightened woman on her way to work. Cops can be nice to the frightened woman on her way to work who gets hit by a car, and to the frightened woman on her way to work who hits her.

Kindness is noble.

1 comment:

  1. what a horrid day!
    im sorry about it all, hope you are feeling better now. keep reading and cocooning until you feel better!!!