Wednesday, July 20, 2005


In Which I Discover My Reason for Being...

In the morning, I hitched a ride to work with a neighbor. Still in a daze, I told her what happened. She couldn't believe that I was alive and unscathed, let alone that my car was still drivable. I couldn't believe it either. I kept waiting to come to my senses and realize that I was still back in that other universe (what we should probably call Earth-Dead), that everything that had happened since the accident was just some last-second fantasy conjured by my dying mind. I kept waiting for the darkness to close in. I kept waiting for something awful to happen. It felt wrong, my being alive and unharmed, I mean. Last night, I had the answer to a question I'd always wondered about--how I would die. And now today, I was still here and everything seemed thrown out of whack. It made no sense that I should still be here. One of my mom's favorite maxims was that everything happened for a reason. But...what was my reason for being here now?

It was a question I was no closer to answering--indeed it seemed that if anything I was losing ground on it--as I spent the morning making calls to my insurance company, beginning a Kafkaesque process that would result in my car being declared a total loss. The insurance company would pay out in the paltry amount of $2,400, which was dismaying because after turning that money over to GMAC, it would be determined that I still owed $800 on my car loan, and I would find that few things are more dispiriting than making payments on a car you no longer have.

But that was all in a future I still couldn't quite believe I'd get to experience.

At lunch, I wandered around my office and out to the parking lot. I wasn't hungry. I wasn't tired. I was just numb. Whenever I closed my eyes, I could still see the grille of that truck, the silver Mack truck dog. And when I did, I had to force myself to suppress this tendency to shake all over, like a Chihuahua. If was like trying to stop your teeth from chattering; sometimes it worked, sometimes not. Everything seemed just beyond the edge of my control. That includes my mental processes, which seemed reduced to a single loop. What am I doing? What's my reason for being here? I thought, over and over.

"Are you all right?" I heard a voice call to me.

I turned, and there, at the edge of the parking lot, in a little grove of trees, eating lunch with coworkers and enjoying the fall air, was Her Lovely Self. She was standing now, a hand on her hip, her lips pursed slightly, her eyes gazing at me in wonder and concern.

"Are you all right?" she repeated. "You look really pale."

I came over and sat down at a bench with her. I couldn't concentrate on forming words and suppressing the shakes at the same time, so I just started talking and quivering. I told her the whole story, the blow-by-blow of the accident, the perilous spin across the expressway, the pure certainty that I had arrived at the moment of my death, everything you've just read. Well, almost everything.

She stared at me, eyes wide with shock, one lovely hand slowly creeping to her mouth as I told her what happened. She put her other lovely hand on top of mine. "Have you seen a doctor? Are you sure you're okay? I think you're in shock. I'll drive you--"

"No," I said simply, standing up. "I think I'm okay." Without another word, I turned to leave.

And then a fragment of thought from last night completed itself. I never told her how I felt. Which was an odd thought to have, because up until the moment of my death back in that other universe, it hadn't quite occurred to me just how deep my feelings for Her Lovely Self went. But I had a pretty good idea now.

I stopped, turned back to look at her. God, she really is lovely, I thought. And she was, looking so smart in her black skirt and jacket, her white blouse opened slightly at the neck. The October sun was gleaming brightly off her strawberry blonde hair, which she had worn up today, revealing the most appealing nape of neck. She was staring at me with a look halfway between pity and curiosity.

"You know, it's funny," I said. "Maybe I shouldn't tell you this, but right in the middle of that accident, the last thing I thought of was the moment I met you back at that internship two years ago."

"At the apartment," she said, smiling at the memory. "When I bummed a ride to the mall with you guys and you left your roommate behind."

"Right," I nodded. "Anyway..." Suddenly I was out of words. "Anyway, you were the last person I thought of." I started to turn again, thinking Fuck fuck fuck! Say something else! Anything else!

But before I could, I heard her say, "Wait! Wait!"

I turned back again, and she took three quick steps towards me, then wrapped her arms around me fiercely. I buried my face in the nape of that delicious neck, smelling her, feeling her warmth, her wonderful closeness. I hooked an arm around her waist and pressed her to me. I was still shaking. But not from shock now.

"You're all right," she said soothingly, her lips touching my ear. And then she said, in a slightly different tone of voice, "I'm so glad you're all right."

Suddenly, everything did seem all right. And just as suddenly, I knew my reason for being here.

Like I said earlier, it was the best accident of my life.

From Somewhere on the Masthead

Wow. I wondered if you were going there when you mentioned her in the accident post. Having been in a similar accident (odds-defying uncontrolled cross of a 6-lane highway, damaging only the vehicle) I can sympathize with both the shakes and the epiphany. Nicely delivered. Thanks for sharing these stories with us.
and then along came the youngins... Your memories that you share with your readers are amazing... I was without a computer for 3 weeks so I had alot of reading to catch up...
God your shameless. Using the accident as a way to get into her pants (because we know without the sympathy facter she never would have looked at you). I swear, you'd use your own funeral for the same purpose if you could.

Your BRother
I was just going to post "heavy sigh, romantic".....

But, then I saw the post from your brother and damn near pissed myself laughing.
can you say "movie of the week"?
if only it was so easy.

I mean the pants part ...

Funerals are an expensive way to get laid. I believe in the cocunut icecream with some additional sprikly stuff.

and before I forget ... WOW!!!!

now back to our usual idolation.
Trust a brother to ruin the mood of a perfectly good moment! LOL

That was a good story, I hope you've shared it with HLS.
Aw hell, it's a love story. Good lord.

But, it is a good story.

How many times have you told it to her? When slightly loaded at a party (while she listens and adds her own versions) ? Just wondering...
I was quite moved by that and I don't say things like that lightly - I mean I don't move lightly anyway.

Wonderful read.
Again, I say, write a book! Your writing style is fantastic, delectable, like eating the fish at Cleo's in Playa Del Rey, or the PortaBella Mushroom Ravioli in Porcini Cream Sauce at Cantalini's (also in Playa, although I'm not a resident or a shill, it's just on my mind in the top ten food items). Really, your work melts like butter on a Thomas' English Muffin (the other brands of English Muffins are pale comparisons).
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