I got hit by a car two years ago this weekend.
Getting hit by a car is a weird thing. I wasn’t seriously injured, but I was injured just enough. And a disorienting series of events quickly followed, including an annoying and sometimes painful recovery that continues to this day.
Shoulders and backs, my orthopedist said, Once you mess them up, they’re sort-of never the same.
Framing that experience in a bigger picture way: Approximately 48 hours before I was shattered, I’d found out, in a rather cruel and startling manner, that Frederic was getting married. And within 48 hours after being hit by a car, I found out that my significant other (who was living with me at the time) had been cheating on me — for Quite a While. And not just with someone I knew (and others knew about it too and hadn’t told me), but with several women.
I felt stupid. And I’d never been treated that way by anyone in my life — let alone by a whole bunch of people I had trusted and with whom I had had intimate relationships, all at the same time.
As for the car accident, it was rattling in a way in which I’ve never been rattled before — being alone, in pain, in a hospital bed; unable to reach my then-significant other (whose actions I wouldn’t know about for another two days) — that sucked. But in a more fundamental way, it was just plain scary to have been smacked into by a car that didn’t stop. Who never stopped.
Overall, it was a weird era — to have had no control and then to have been publicly outed and shamed for having had No Idea and No Control, in a life hallmarked by The Pursuit of Control. All of my friends knew what had happened; the people I worked with knew what had happened (because some of them knew Cheating Bill); the few people who knew both me and Frederic knew what had happened.
And I felt like a big, fat idiot — with my arm in an ugly sling to boot.
Two years later, I’m still pondering it all. And it made me quick to not like people; faster to distrust them.
Unrelatedly, this week, I had a week full of dinners, and by Thursday, when I was at the fanciest of the events, I’d also had a full-day of meetings. By the end of all of it, I didn’t have time to change out of my suit and into a cocktail dress before the evening’s party. So I showed up amongst the coiffed and prepped in a suit and glasses. There was Nothing I Could Do About it.
Sometimes, those things happen. There was a time in my life when I would have been timid, and mortified. Since being hit by a car, I have ceased to care.
So fashion-forward; so brave! And I love your bag, the event’s photographer said. I rolled my eyes. If a pants-suit is fashion-forward amongst the Socials, then…Heaven help me.
All of this in mind, the next day, I was talking to a friend, and I said, in my ALLCAPS voice:
I look better than I’ve ever looked in my life (and am apparently “fashion forward”); I feel better than I have in years; I am doing what I love — and more importantly — I like what I do. What am I doing wrong, here?
And he replied (paraphrased): You have to make yourself emotionally available. Also, you need someone who can handle you.
Another friend simply said: Maybe you should expand your interests beyond your athletic pursuits, reading, writing, Sauvignon blanc, and eating Thai food for every meal?
(Bad advice, that second quip. Ignoring that.)
Since the accident and all that ensued, I know that I have been wary. Ready to run at a moment’s notice. Unwilling, or even unable, to feel anything anymore for fear of being taken by surprise.
But, in my heart-of-hearts, I know I am unlikely to be hit by a car again. The odds of me being subject to a weird confluence of events like I was two years ago are slim-to-none. However the fear of losing control has been imprinted upon me in ways I still haven’t fully shaken — both for better and for much, much worse.
All of this said, with two years between me and that Jeep at 85th and Lex; two years between me and the discovery of that cruel deception — in matters of the heart, rather than merely in matters of accidental fashion, I am ready to be a little more brave.