I was in an automobile accident a few months ago. Just before the accident, I had a strange feeling of insight. It was a moment of pure joy. I thought to myself, “You know what, things are good!”
Everything was going great. I even checked off the mental list. Getting along with my friends. Check. Up to date on what is going on with everyone in the family. Check. Everyone is healthy. Check. Things are great with my hubby and the boys. Check. Got some money in the bank and bills are paid. Health, not bad. I have all the things that make me happy. I feel really good about this.
My internal blissful pep talk continued. Work is good. Blogging is going great. Writing is taking off. I was almost done with my online courses for life coaching certification. I have a plan and I have been working on that “Bucket List!” In fact, to top things off, I have the toys that I love. I have my iPhone with which I happily and openly enjoy my addiction. But the best thing ever is that I have something that I have wanted for so long and it’s mine, all mine, I have my Jeep!
When I was nineteen, I bought my first Jeep Wrangler. I had to sell it after I got married because I could not afford the payments I always wanted another one. For years I put it out of my mind because it was impractical. But now, the kids are big and I was finding myself alone driving around a seven passenger luxury minivan. So, I sold it and bought the car of my dreams. The car of my youth. My lovely, awesomely cute, utterly cool Jeep. I have gained popularity and notoriety that I have not known for many many years because of a vehicle. I love it. I am in love with it. I have never loved a thing so much. (Maybe for a little while I loved my engagement ring in a similar way. But that was in the beginning. Now I love it for sentimental reasons and for what it stands for.) Until now, I have not had the satisfactory feeling of loving something that I wanted, worked for, waited for, and got all on my own and according to plan that had nothing to do with anyone or anything else but my own true interests and desires.
I was driving along thinking about what a gorgeous day it was. Sunny and warm. I was cruising along Pacific Coast Highway on a perfectly clear summer afternoon. Enjoying the view of the ocean. Blasting the tunes. No worries. No hurry. Just enjoying the ride. I thought about how much I loved this moment and how much I loved my Jeep. We have a perfect relationship. My Jeep is used and a little old, like me, but still cute and feisty with lots of energy and strength. My Jeep is still fashionable enough and cool enough that even the teens and my husband enjoy riding in it, driving it, and they even love that it is mine. I feel good in it. The seat and controls are a perfect fit for me and for my body. I love the sound of the music coming from the stereo speakers on the roll bar. I love the hum of the engine. I love the feel of driving it, kicking the clutch and shifting the gears, turning the steering wheel and leaning into a curve in the road.
I love everything about driving a Jeep. I love the looks I get when I am in it. I love the waves I get from other Jeep drivers. I love the feeling of the warm sun on my shoulders and the cool wind on my legs as I drive along “topless” and “doorless” on a hot day. I love the freedom of not having to lock it or set an alarm on it because there are no doors and no roof to contain anything in it anyway. I love the way I giggle and smile just because it makes me feel so darn good. I never expected to like having a yellow vehicle and I know that sometimes it looks like a service vehicle at the beach, but I will say this, you can never be bummed out in a bright yellow car. Every time I hopped in it, I was cheered right up!
There are some down sides. I can’t go very fast in it. It sucks down a lot of gas. I can’t take many passengers with me. It’s not comfortable for passengers. I can’t care about keeping a hairstyle. In fact, I have acquired a lot of hats and a ponytail is my basic go to style. There is not very much cargo space. I can’t go shopping in it if I plan to take more than one stop because there isn’t enough room to store my purchases and no way to lock them up. It’s bumpy and I spill my coffee going over the train tracks. But I don’t care about those things. I am in love. Maybe a bit too much. It’s not good to love something this much.
I wasn’t actively thinking about any of this at the time. No, I was thinking about making tacos for the kids and their friends. Yes, I was making a mental shopping list. I was thinking about how much work would be, but how I felt good that day and I really wanted to make tacos. I was wondering, where is that lazy susan? I can put all the ingredients on it and have a taco bar. Then. . . I saw a car turn right in front of me and as I slammed on my breaks, I thought, “Oh no, you didn’t!” Sccrreeeeaaaccchhhhh . . . She did. A woman turned left when I was driving along in oncoming traffic. I had the right of way. I had a green light. I was not speeding. She just went for it, I guess. That is why my first thought was, “No you didn’t.” But she did. I tried with all my might and my Jeep worked to the best of its twelve-year-old ability. All of that strength and steel and power went into stopping and avoiding a collision. All of my driving experience and ability and strength and fortitude went into avoiding the accident. The skid marks were at least ten feet long. Sssccreeeaacchhhhh….. and in one heartbeat, one surreal little crystal clear moment of clarity, this IS happening “Dang it!” . . .CRASH! We collided in the intersection.
I was able to slow the Jeep down enough and turn to the left enough to avoid hitting her full on, but my right front end hit her right front end and then my car swerved around from the force of the collision and I came within inches of hitting another car ‘”head on” that was in the left turn lane of the street on the right, perpendicular to the one I was originally travelling on. I looked into the face of the woman in that car, it was Jeep Cherokee, so we literally were eye to eye. I remember looking at her and saying, “I can’t move, you are going to have to go around.” She just stared at me. Later I realized she must have been in shock. I almost just careened into her! The accident happened right in front of her. But my vehicle had stopped moving. My Jeep took it’s last breath in that moment. Airbags deployed, engine stalled, right front end bashed in, bumper crunched, and hood dented, it was over. I knew instantly, these were my last moments in my beloved Jeep. That sounds so stupid now. But at the moment I was heartbroken.
I was worried about the woman who was in the other car. I could tell that she was conscious, but she took a bad hit. Her little import made of fiberglass was demolished. It was no match for my steel. You do not want to get in a collision with a Jeep. Trust me. There was broken glass everywhere from her vehicle. I realized that my doors were not on and my top was not up, I had just sustained a serious accident in a convertible with glass and debris flying everywhere, and after a brief once over, I realized that I did not have a scratch on me.
All of these moments went by very fast. People from inside the business on the corner were coming towards me and the other driver to help. I reached over to get my purse and cell phone which were still on the passenger seat. (Weird.) I tried to start my car and it did not turn over. I wanted to get out. I guess I unbuckled my seat belt, but I don’t remember actually doing it. My left knee hurt like it was scraped and bleeding, but I looked at it and nothing appeared hurt. I wasn’t bleeding. I could barely breathe. I must have inhaled the powder from the airbag. I swung my legs out of the Jeep and I went to step out and I couldn’t put my weight on my leg. I almost fell. I grabbed on to the steering wheel, a man was there who helped me. I told him, “I think I broke my leg, I can’t walk on it.”
A few people helped me over to the curb. Someone brought me ice for my leg. Someone brought me a chair and helped me to move over to the shade. Someone was helping the other woman, too. Everyone was asking questions. I was crying. She was in shock. She could barely speak. Her pale face was marked by her black mascara as her tears ran down her cheeks. She was horrified. It was heartbreaking. I couldn’t stop looking at my Jeep. It still looked good. Maybe it wasn’t so bad after all. From where we sat bruised and shaken, the vehicles looked okay.
People were trying to start it and move it out of the intersection, when the horn started blaring. The police arrived. Someone had called an ambulance. The EMTs arrived. A tow truck arrived. I called home. My husband was on the way. I asked someone who worked at the Starbucks on the corner to use my cell phone and take pictures of the scene. (Later, when I looked at the pictures I realized how delusional I was to think that the accident wasn’t that bad. My Jeep was not getting fixed. Both cars were toast.) I was being asked so many questions and for every one of them, my answer was, “I have that on a card.” I handed out my Auto Club card, my auto insurance card, my driver’s license, my business card, and most helpful – my “I am a Diabetic” card. Sometime ago, I received some pamphlet that had a card that said, “I HAVE DIABETES, if I am unresponsive please call 911 immediately. There are blank spaces to fill in name, medicines, allergies, doctor name and phone number, and emergency contact name and phone number. I had filled in this card and kept it in my wallet. It came in handy when the paramedics asked me if I am taking any medications.
When I was moved onto a stretcher and put in the ambulance and my Jeep was loaded onto a flat-bed tow truck, I realized that I loved that thing too much. It can be (and was) replaced. I have so much more in my life to be grateful for and love. It is true that it brought me much joy and excitement. Yet, I know that it is my zest for life that made it so.
After hours in the ER, x-rays, and examinations, I found out that it was a sprained ankle that I couldn’t step on. Nothing was broken. I am all better now. Even though it was a few months ago and I have healed, I still feel phantom pain in my knee where I thought that I was bleeding that day.
Although I am sharing this as a ‘memory’ with the National Health Blog Post Month for WEGO Health, I had already been writing this for weeks. Unsure when or why I would post it. It is nothing more than a happening. A memory. A blip in my life. Okay, it is a bit more. I learned something about myself. After mourning for my beloved yellow Jeep and getting over the loss of the thing that I cherished so much, I realized that it wasn’t the Jeep that made me cool, or interesting, or fun. It’s me. I am those things. I was those things the twelve years that I drove the mom-mobile, aka mini-van. But for whatever reason, I didn’t care about those things and they didn’t come out as much back then.
There is an undeniable pleasure that comes with driving a “fun car” or a convertible, or a status symbol. Combine that with appreciating every good health day and truly living and enjoying every experience in my day-to-day life while mixing it up with the gratitude in my heart for every chance that I have to do so, and I can’t help but rock it in my new Jeep! Close friends asked me why would I get another Jeep after the accident. Perhaps a safer or newer vehicle would suit me better. As if I was using the Jeep to get something out of my system. As if it had been a mid-life crisis pacification. As if by crashing it, that part of my life is now over and I should go back to driving a more sensible car. As if it was unlucky or something. I will admit, I considered other makes and models briefly. But all the cars had the same criteria. They had to be fun, convertible and old. (Just like me!) When the insurance money came and my ankle was healed, it did not take long to find a Jeep that was comparable to my last one. Once behind the wheel, I knew it was the right thing for me. Most people think that I got the yellow one painted red. As if I would change the color to suit my mood! Hey, there’s an idea!