Nothing is quite as jarring as when your expectations for life and what actually transpires don’t match up. It can be something simple, like thinking the clear wet stuff you’re about to take a big drink of is water, only to realize that it is in fact gin. Then there’s this little example:
A few weeks ago, my boyfriend (A.) and I were in the midst of a lovely day. We only see each other twice a month right now, which is hell, but we make the most of it. We had met my mom for breakfast, and were on our way back to the condo to get ready for our next adventure:
- strolling through the Natural History Museum to see skulls and Mayan artifacts, followed by
- a picnic by the botanical gardens watching ducks waddle and koi fish carve elegance in the reflecting pool, followed by
- a production of Shakespeare’s The Twelfth Night under the stars.
Sheer bliss according to our nerdy standards.
Between breakfast and skulls, reality crashed into our expectations. Check it out. At 18 seconds is where it gets good.
I felt like I was in a movie; because seriously, how could this be real? Let me explain, we were driving (through an admittedly roughed neighborhood) when a green mini-van screamed out of an alleyway and almost pulled out into oncoming traffic, but the driver stopped in time.
Crisis averted? I think not. Car two blew by the mini-van, INTO the intersection. I saw it at the edge of my vision, and all I could think to do was speed up and get out of the way, otherwise it was going to t-bone us right where A. was sitting. The car ended up hitting me, all of the impact of which my poor right rear tire and axel absorbed.
I pulled over, because that’s what you do when you’re in a car accident. And it looked like that was what the at-fault driver was going to do. But no. The bastard was just waiting for me to get out of my car so he/she could take off. In two seconds, the white car and green minivan executed a series of risky maneuvers and sped out of sight. Chasing them was too complicated, not to mention the acute feeling I had that some major shit was going down, and my little bump was probably tame in comparison to the bigger story.
We inspected the damage and photographed the scene while trying to get through to the non-emergency dispatch. After 15 minutes of ringing and no caring voices asking me how the police could help, I figured what was the point. The driver and his/her crazy sidekick (or victim or tormenter) were gone. As in scot-free. But at least we got that cool video as a souvenir (thanks tire place).
Fast-forward. We worked through our adrenalin high and low, and decided to claim the day as ours. No crazy woman in a turban, or some unknown phantom of destruction behind the wheel of a white car was going to take from us any more than they already did. It happened. It’s over. Aside from my car, no one was hurt.
During the picnic portion of our sojourn, I realized I had a series of texts from my mom. Urgent care, emergency room, admitted for sepsis. Surgery. The car accident was nothing compared to finding out my mom was admitted for an infection that went septic. And of course in the absence of information, the very best thing to do is dwell on the very worst case scenarios one can conjure (this is an awful exercise for writers and creative types by the way; torture). After making sure she was being well cared for, and was doing okay morale-wise, we decided to stay the course and watch the play.
The rest of the weekend was doggy duty for my mom’s dog, allergy attacks, sleeplessness and hospital visits. A. breaking his arm the month before and other urgent family matters combined with all of this— well, it felt like too many things were going wrong at once. We could have despaired. In fact, it was awfully tempting to play the self pity card. But no; we did not. This whole series of events had a different effect. “The world breaks everyone,” said Hemingway, “and afterward, some are strong at the broken places.”
I don’t mean to imply we were broken by these recent events (because let’s face it, by some standards this was a proverbial walk through the park), but we were challenged. And together, we met the challenges and moved through them. After having these experiences, I do feel stronger and more capable. And you know what? A man who carries a cay by the tail learns something he can learn in no other way. (Thanks Mark Twain)
PS-Mom is recovering quite nicely.