Live for Moments

Sarah Rosemary at Sunny Side Up and I are hosting our own Reverb11, a series of prompts to look back on 2011 and manifest the new year.  Please check our Reverb11 pages for details, and join in!

Prompt for December 2:  Live for momentspick a vivid moment from this year – maybe one when you felt most alive (from Reverb10); or one when you felt most wounded, happiest, fulfilled.  Tell us about it in the most vivid detail you can – sights, sounds, smells, feelings.

It was the second weekend in April, and I had been out running, then I’d gone to pick up my race number at NYRR for the Scotland Day Run.  I was crossing the street at 85th and Lex when a red Jeep had (legally) made a left through the intersection and didn’t stop for the pedestrian (me) in the crosswalk.

At the time, I had been doing everything right.  I wasn’t on my blackberry; I hadn’t had my headphones on.  I had been crossing with the light, in the crosswalk.  It was one of those shit happens stories.

They say that humans are equipped with fight/flight/freeze responses, but you don’t know how you will respond to a stimulus until you’re presented with adverse circumstances.  When the car didn’t stop, I stuck my arm out to protect myself; to pound on the hood in the event that he’d screech to a halt at the last moment (fight).  When he didn’t stop, I rolled out of the way before further damage could be inflicted (flee).

The driver yelled Sorry! out his window before he sped off down Lex.  Stunned, I walked into the Jackrabbit Sports on the corner (where I’d been headed) and texted Strand: I’ve just been hit by a car, should I go to the hospital?  Her response, obviously, was Yes!

I was too shocked to do much of anything else, so I bought a few things then took a taxi to Cornell Hospital.

The thing is this: just a few days before the car accident, Frederic had surprised me with the news that he was marrying our former colleague.  He’d told me by email at 10:30 in the morning, and I’d sat in my office, stunned, because the message began with proclamations d’amour, then ended with a marriage announcement.

I dry-heaved into my trash can.

Mind you, I don’t think I ever really thought I’d marry Frederic.  But I think I deserved to hear things in a different way.

So I’d gone running in the park that bright April Saturday to try and shake off the surprise.  In the morning before my run, Bill, my then-significant other, had said I’m going to brunch with this woman I used to know.  She’s young and blonde and a graphic designer and she makes me smile.  He said it while smiling that smile that men get.  You know the one.  I think it comes from somewhere in the crotch.

I had already been feeling old.  But I stared incredulously at Bill, who was sitting on the dark end of the couch, the one under the crystal floor lamp with the fluorescent bulb that took forever to warm up, and I said flatly, I’m going to go running, and then I’m going to go pick up my race number for the Scotland Run.

He said with disgust, Of course. The Scotland Run.  As if I had personally planned Scotland Day and running in my plaid skirt as a rebuttal to his young blonde.

He wisely left off the part about my life in airports, and I left my apartment and went off to run a good number of miles, get hit by a car, and wind up at Cornell Hospital.

(Why I felt the need to take a photo of this moment, I do not know)

At Cornell, I vividly remember the doctor telling me that they were first concerned I had internal bleeding, and I remember calmly explaining to the doctor that I knew I was in shock.  I told him that I was certain I’d be in excruciating pain in a few hours — that I could tell — but that I wasn’t in much pain yet.

You’ve been injured before, I take it, he said.

I’m Calamity Jane, I explained.

Bill was unreachable and only showed up at the hospital at the very end.  They released me early that evening; I’d torn apart my shoulder from my fight moment.  I was heavily drugged and don’t remember much after that, except that Strand came to my house and she tried to make me as comfortable as possible.  The police came to my apartment to take a statement.  Apparently, I asked to watch The Adventures of Priscilla Queen of the Desert, and then promptly passed out.

Throughout the weekend, my friend McPrep kept sending me messages telling me that we needed to talk.  McPrep had a funny habit of bringing a bit of chaos with him, so I tried to put him off.  But he was insistent, despite my whole I just got hit by a car bit.

That following Monday, he reached me by phone at the office, and explained that Bill had been cheating on me.

I dry-heaved into my trash can.

The rest of the week was blurred by shock and pain and the medicine used to treat it.  I don’t think I woke up until I was sitting over tea at San Francisco International Airport a few days later, being asked by a friend if I was physically capable of driving with my arm in a sling.

I realized then, but even more so now, that those were Moments.  They were one blob of Moment, really, and it changed the course of things for the rest of the year.

9 Comments

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  1. This: “He said it while smiling that smile that men get. You know the one. I think it comes from somewhere in the crotch.” Is so freaking spot on.

    I am SO SORRY for all the utterably crappy things you on this particular day. But the way you write it all, all the details, is incredible. I’m so using this prompt next!

  2. I think crotch smile is the best bleeping description I’ve heard of that smile. I also want to add that maybe this year will be better than the last.

  3. This is a good one, Mere. I like how, when it was happening, it probably did not seem like a “moment,” but, after, you could see how it changed you and the rest of your year. And here’s to a much better 2012 – with many excellent moments 🙂

  4. As someone who was also in a severe car accident in 2010, I am SO sorry for what happened to you and I hope that you have been able to recover fully. What a horrible, crappy day. How did it feel to write about it? Do you see it differently now?

    • Thanks Roxanne. It has been a much longer process than expected but I am mostly through the recovery! Hope you have made it through as well. Writing about this experience was definitely different than I thought it would be, but I feel as if I have come through the looking-glass on this one. Thanks for stopping by!

  5. WOW!

    That’s really all I can think to say. I’m so very sorry that all that happened to you so quickly. The word resiliant comes to mind. Hope 2012 is better to you.

  6. Incredible! You’ve expressed your experiences so well. I was gripped from the beginning and felt I was on the journey with you. My life follows these patterns too; all the tough stuff flies at me simultaneously! So sorry to hear you had to endure physical and emotional shock together, at a time when you most needed love and support. How uncaring of the driver, Frederic, and Bill. Hopefully the path has been cleared for someone more worthy of you in the future!

    Lastly, that picture rocks!! The empty chair is waiting to be occupied; meanwhile you are both the subject and the photographer, the only person witnessing your pain in that moment. The image speaks volumes. Thanks for sharing.

    • Robin, thank you! I never even thought of the photo in that way, but you’ve given me food for thought for more reflection on this experience, so thank you again!

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