I left the car running and the keys in the ignition as I stumbled out. I must have looked so out of place with my long camel trench and oversized glasses, ghastly on the side of the road. I leaned against the railing in an effort to slow down my heartbeat, looked at the wrecked car and then I looked down at myself. Not a scratch. A blue sedan pulled up in front of my rental and the driver walked up to check on me. I instinctively hugged him and opened the floodgates for a river of tears. All I could say is “I’m ok, I’m ok.” Away in the distance, a huge sixteen-wheeler truck was pulling off to the side of the road.
When the highway troopers arrived, I honestly couldn’t recall much of what had happened. I don’t think it would be true to say that my life flashed before my eyes – it didn’t. It all happened so fast and felt like a twisted game of Mario Kart.
“How. The. Fuck. Am. I. Not. Dead?” I kept thinking as I scribbled down notes on the Greyhound bus taking me back to the city, euphoric in a way that could very well have me fill an entire Moleskine notebook with really urgent thoughts about my life.
I had a dark cloud over my head until about a half hour before the accident, when I vented to my husband about cash flow concerns that now sound so fucking petty. After we hung up the phone, I looked up and remembered where I was – a road that took me home to Montreal many times in the past ten years. Fond memories eclipsed the trivialities as I thought about my mom, put Haim radio on, admired the vibrant autumn colors, and smiled. I was singing out loud and finally feeling like myself when the truck hit me.
How many people who get hit by a truck this size actually stick around to talk about it? What are the odds?
Had I been buried deep in my thoughts, perhaps in the middle of a text conversation, and still upset, would I have had the reflex to do whatever I did right then and there with the speed pedal that brought my car in front of the truck rather than under, and saved my life?
When we were visiting Ernest Hemingway’s home last week in Key West, I really connected with one of his quotes about writing. Timely advice for someone reflecting on a year-long writer’s block, it goes: “All you have to do is write one true sentence. Write the truest sentence that you know.” Here’s mine:
Sometimes, life throws a 18-wheeler at you to teach you a lesson.
As much as I was lamenting on my poor little entrepreneur fate earlier this morning, as much as I now can’t see anything but the bigger picture. Be present. We do need wake up calls time and time again, to stop bitching and worrying, and remember what really matters. This accident gave me a new lease on life, and I wanted to share this energy with you. Love you all xxx