Scenes from a fender bender


A one woman show


Why are y’all texting me right now?

Did I not just say that I was in a car accident?

Now I love your thoughts and prayers and well wishes but I’m really not in the mood to answer questions

When these things occur, I want to call my mom. I want to call my boyfriend. I want to see my daughter. I don’t want to give explanations to my co-workers. Granted, that is the first place I called because that was where I was headed when all this happened.

But can we all just calm down with the texts and voicemails?

Y’all are okay. I like you. but you’re not my priority right now. I’m just saying.


So how is this going to work  in terms of getting ready for Carnaval? because my costume is super cute. I know I’ve been slacking on my fitness and diet. However I’m ready to eat clean and really hit the gym. I’m going to have to miss samba tonight.  I don’t know what my back is going to feel like tomorrow morning to lift weights. I really wanted to make my cycle class and boot camp this week. This is not working for getting fit for Carnaval. I can’t really do Pilates or much of anything with my back messed up. I’m hoping this is minor. I’ve been in a few car accidents like this in the past where I was just sitting there minding my own business when somebody plowed into me. I know this will be painful and stiff. As if I hadn’t already dealt with stiff joints recently. I won’t be able to turn my head. I had to be on the phone with the insurance and my medical provider before taking any kind of pain medication or icing my neck and back. This is not part of my fitness plan.

It is in these moments that I realize how fragile we are as people. I screamed at the impact. I screamed from shock and fear. It was a primal screen, the scream of a startled animal. I felt  so powerless in that moment. I didn’t know what else was going to happen. Would the impact hurt me? What happened to my car? What if that airbag had deployed? I could have suffered broken ribs or a broken nose. I cried later. I started to think about my daughter. What if it had been more serious? My life didn’t flash before my eyes. I barely  had time to even understand what had happened. I would want my life to flash before my eyes. I would like to remember every moment that’s been meaningful to me. Every moment is meaningful, even those moments when I’m incredibly weak and not my best self, like when I’m reprimanding my daughter over something stupid or snapping at my spouse over something stupid. I take it all for granted. I had a Thornton Wilder Our Town moment of realizing how precious it all is: the spilled orange juice, the dirty dishes in the sink, the dirty dishes in the sink, the funny text messages with friends, work being so tedious, steamed spinach, cold water. I don’t want to leave my daughter. I wouldn’t want her to cry or need me or miss me for the rest of her life.  I’m grateful that I’m all right because I can see M again, hold her, and tell her I love her. I can’t promise her anything because it’s not mine to promise.

On the plus side, I get some time off. God knows I’m done with the tomfoolery at work.  I’m so ready for spring break. I’m going to read and watch Netflix. I aspire to be a woman of leisure. Hand me the ice pack and remote.

Flashback: Epiphany while on the hard pavement

See what had happened was that I had no patience. Head swimming with a long to-do list, little bird heartbeat, little feet taking me to and fro. Sometimes it’s no fun to be this short, cute as it may be, I gots stuff to do, let me hang this poster myself, can’t wait for help. Blue painter’s tape on the corners, giant question mark on butcher paper. Not high enough. not wearing heels and arms are too short even as I reach and reach. Quick, grab the chair. The mama in me says hell no, chairs are dangerous, you’ll fall and get hurt. Don’t like pain. Why do you think I don’t ski or snowboard? No bones of mine have ever broken. Don’t want to hear the crunch. Don’t want the plaster or the pills. But this poster has to be higher. Lean the chair against the wall. Step up. Who says folding chairs are the worst? Poster moves up a foot or two. I’m about to pat down the last corner when the chair gives way.
You don’t see stars when you hit the ground. No I saw the spinning of the earth on its axis. I saw planets in orbit, asteroids, Saturn and its rings.
I fall backwards, land on the ground. Chair topples and clamps around my left leg like a bear trap. Grit teeth. No cry of pain, not even tears that usually flow so easily. Try to get to my feet too quick, right foot twists as I try to rise.
Custodian comes around the corner. “Why are you on the ground?” I shake free of the trap. Both legs throb. Cheeks burn. “Are you okay?”
“I’m fine. I’ll walk it off.”
Limp to the office. Don’t take the ice that is offered. Left leg is purple and has an imprint of a toothless jaw. Right foot aches but I didn’t hear the snap.
Six hours later, can’t walk.
Two hours later, leave the ER with my right foot in a bandage and orthopedic shoe and my left leg on fire.
Gotta listen to that mama voice.

The first mile is the hardest

After more than two weeks since I fell down onto the hard concrete of an outdoor breezeway at work, I tied on my Saucony Grid Hurricanes(ouch! the tops of both of my feet are still tender) and strapped on my hot pink iPod armband. I ran a mile to the shoreline, the Bay cloaked in so much gray fog, I couldn’t see the City. Didn’t matter. I love the Bay in the morning. I love the Bay.
And I love to run.
Missed it.

A visit to the ICU

makes everything fall into perspective. In my tender-hearted state, it made sense that I come home before tonight’s campus event to feed the dogs and feed my soul by talking to two close friends–and shedding some tears. Some thoughts/images/memories:

  • tiger eyes, now glassy and somewhat sad, unable to look my way
  • so many machines and tubes and bandages. ventilators, monitors, liquids flowing in and out of so many places
  • jagged toenails
  • a mother’s lingering embrace
  • holding back tears
  • me telling his parents the story of the sophomore field trip to the vocational center: how he did a double-take when he saw me, how he said “you’re gonna hear me present,” how proud I was that he was the main student presenter
  • “Hey kiddo, you know I’m here for you just like I promised.”
  • talking about God with his dad
  • the silent prayers in my head
  • thoughts of my own loved ones
  • the realization that while I was enjoying a magical weekend, he was fighting to survive three surgeries
  • his mother stroking his forehead
  • his mother telling the head nurse my name, that I’m “phenomenal” and how I’ve “done so much for the family”
  • watching the machine breathe for him

I once hated this child. I thought he was a worthless criminal, a hardened thug. Lately, he’s been smiling and waving. I wonder if I will get to see him do that again. I pray I will.