Three weeks ago, I was involved in an accident on the freeway.
I was in a brand-spankin'-new car, one that I'd owned for a month, and I had, ironically, stopped at the dealership to get my tires checked before heading out to pick up my husband from work. Listening to my favorite Japanese CD and thinking about my plans for the evening, I watched the green signs for my exit.
A red car in front of me stopped suddenly as they were cut off. I slammed on my brakes, hoping that I had kept a good following distance behind. I sighed in relief when I stopped, then tensed again as I heard squealing brakes. I lurched back and then forward like a whip, the car spinning counter-clockwise. My breath caught, and my fists went white, tightening around the wheel.
I don't remember what I thought at the time, other than that I was facing the wrong way. I do remember looking out the driver's side door, wide-eyed at the silver grill of a giant white truck. He stopped. Thank God he stopped.
Then, my body was a whip again, thrown to the side as someone struck the rear door of the driver's side. Everything felt numb. I watched as two other cars pulled over, reluctantly letting go of the brake and driving myself to safety--the car thumped. Flat tire.
|Understatement. That tire was demolished.|
When I had parked, everything became blurry and surreal. A man with a blue bag knocked on my window and asked if I was okay. My wrist--my shoulder--everything else was numb. I nodded. "Yeah," I said.
My CD was still playing. Kaze wa tomari kotoba wa--I clicked it off. I needed to call my husband, let him know I wasn't going to pick him up. But when I heard his voice, all that came out of my mouth was a garbled mess. And when the policeman knocked on my window and handed me a paper, I was so confused and shaky that I couldn't even recall exactly what had happened, doubting every word that came out of my mouth.
|I mean, it doesn't look that bad... The hatch wouldn't open, but...|
Was I okay? Was I really rear-ended? Was I sure I hadn't hit anyone else? I said "I don't know" at least 30 times, and cried for a full two hours. I had a hard time filling out paperwork and listening to my husband's voice on the phone was about the only thing that kept me awake. The only things I was sure of were that I was upset about my car, and that my wrist was killing me.
It wasn't until the next day that I realized I had been in shock and that I had terrible, terrible whiplash. Fortunately, things like ibuprofen and heating/cooling packs exist, and I'm almost back to normal.
On the downside, rental cars are expensive and I'm afraid of squeaky brakes.
On the upside, I have more life experience, something to draw on for future writing, and a greater appreciation for good friends, family, and coworkers. Thank you for the rides, hugs, and good advice.