I’ve started collaborating with Lauren over at Afro Girl Talks, and here is the first post I wrote for her site.
Read the original here:
Car crashes aren’t always as dramatic as they seem, as the movies have taught us to believe. There’s not always a screeching of tires, the shattering of glass, your life flashing before your eyes.
Sometimes, you can be driving casually along a street, and a car can just veer off course, into your own, and almost in slow motion, the only thing going through your mind as you realize this is happening is:
“What. The. Actual. Hell.”
I honestly never thought it would happen to me. I bet you don’t expect it to happen to you. You thought that car crashes only happened to people who drive recklessly.
We’ve taken drivers’ ed, forced to watch unrealistic, boring documentaries about the dangers of driving. Our parents have consistently been over our shoulders, giving us lectures.
But you don’t really take in the meaning of all of the words and statistics thrown at your brain until it happens to you. First hand experiences make a stronger impression on people.
It’s weird how the course of your life is often determined less by big, official decisions like college, career, and retirement plans, and more by happenstance.
If only I’d taken another road…
If only I’d skipped that party…
If only I’d stopped at that coffee shop instead of the other one…
I might have avoided a run-in, I might not have met you, my life might be totally different.
Our thoughts are driven by these “what-ifs” that give us content for daydreaming, mapping out the potential courses of our lives, sometimes leading in completely opposite directions.
Was I just in the wrong place at the wrong time?
When you first get into the drivers’ seat of a car, you treat it like a privilege, driving like an anal madman, double-checking the mirror and taking forever to switch lanes to avoid swerving.
But then driving becomes second nature, and you know where to reach, what levers to flick.
This car accident happened last week. The day after it happened, I was back in the car, but this time, in the passenger seat, with my dad at the steering wheel.
I felt fine, until a car approached us on the left, the way it had played out in the accident.
All of the sudden, my stomach turned, and inside, I was freaking out. In my mind, I was back to the moment I watched my car get crunched. The what-ifs were morphing in and out of proportion, throwing images before my eyes of everything bad that could ever happen to people in cars.
But to everyone else, all I’d done was flinch a bit, and grip the seat.
The next day, I was back behind the wheel, but as soon as I drove down that same street, past that shopping center that I turned into, a paranoia took over. All I felt was a blender whirring in my stomach as my organs clenched and un-clenched.
I don’t know how long this feeling will last. I meticulously observe the road as I drive, and I don’t know if I will ever be able to feel relaxed in a car again.