A Year Ago

A Year Ago

A year ago, today, my life was turned upside down.

I had just watched my mom get remarried after having been with my dad for 25 years. I was driving over to see my dad around 930pm. His driveway butts up to a busy street on which I had been rear-ended badly not six months earlier, so I drove a half-block past his house to make a left turn onto a side street and then turn around.

I was slowing and downshifting to make the left turn from the center turning lane when I heard loud, screeching tires. I had no idea where they were coming from until I was slammed into head-on.

When I opened my eyes again, I was facing oncoming traffic three lanes over on the other side of the street. My horn was blaring. I had glass and airbag dust in my mouth and nose, and the smell of gunpowder was overwhelming. I had to get out. My driver’s door wouldn’t open and I panicked. I started to roll down the window, ready to crawl out if necessary. Then I took a breath, climbed over my gearshift and got out the passenger side.

I stood by my dear, demolished MINI Cooper and saw a man walking toward me from his vehicle, now stalled in someone’s yard just beyond my car.

He got very close to me and I saw blood running down his face. He asked if I was okay. I said, no. He walked away and got back in his vehicle.

The neighbor whose evening we’d disturbed was now outside; she followed the man back to his car and then came over to see if I was okay.

“Did you smell the alcohol on his breath?” No, I can’t smell anything but gunpowder, still. “I called the ambulance.” Thank you.

She started walking back behind his vehicle and I stopped her. He’s gonna back up! I shouted. Instead, he drove forward through the yard and down the street, away from the accident. Away from me. And this.

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It was then that I realized I was dripping blood onto this woman’s driveway. It was coming from my left hand. I was also spitting it out with the powder and glass that refused to get out of my mouth.

A couple passersby had stopped at this point. I had started to walk the two houses to my dad’s house when I decided against it. I asked one of the men who stopped if I could borrow his mobile phone because mine was somewhere in my car.
I called my dad, do you hear the horn? “What?” Can’t you hear the horn blaring outside? I’ve been in an accident!

I was mad. I was frustrated. I was in shock.

People kept trying to get me to sit down. I had specks of sparkling glass coating my arms, my face, my clothes. I had blood droplets on my jeans. My new jeans. Go figure.

The police, fire engine, and ambulance arrived. I asked a fireman to retrieve my phone, another to turn off my damn horn. I remember thinking to myself to be very polite and call them ‘sir,’ the policemen ‘officer.’

In the ambulance, the paramedic was heartbreakingly gentle as he wiped the glass from my arms and feet with a wet paper towel while I called my mom, just a few hours into her honeymoon. She frantically asked if she should come home and I told her no, I was alright; I’d be alright. She really wanted to come home, but I wouldn’t let her.

After the phone call, the paramedic told me that I had a great attitude, considering.

They took me to the hospital where I had x-rays on my hands, chest, torso, knees, and feet. My chest took the blow from the airbag and seatbelt, my left hand had a laceration on the middle finger from the broken windshield and the heel of my right hand had a contusion from the gear shift and imbedded glass; my knees hit the dashboard and my feet had been depressing the clutch and the brake. My right foot was the worst with horrible swelling, contusions, and two fractured toes. I couldn’t walk.

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I got stitches on my middle finger, which I quickly called Frankenfinger. I got a prescription for pain meds. Then I quickly got a sense of my physical pain and mental trauma.

Getting into dad’s truck wasn’t very fun, but the drive home might have been worse. I wouldn’t let him turn right on red in an intersection. I wanted him to go about 10mph under the speed limit. I gripped the door handle so tight, my knuckles were white. Suddenly, I was afraid to be in a vehicle.

Then it wasn’t just being in a vehicle that scared me. It was not being able to walk. It was my heart stopping when I heard screeching tires or a horn outside my apartment. It was checking the lock on my door three times before bed, knowing I wouldn’t be able to fight back or defend myself if someone were to break in because I was already hurt. It was needing everyone to text me when they made it somewhere, saying ‘drive safe’ like it was a desperate plea, not just a suggestion. I was sure everyone I knew and loved was going to be in a car accident. It was being so angry. So. angry. Seeing my car at the impound was… an experience. Now it was in broad daylight.

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A year later, I still have anxiety: I worry about my boyfriend driving to and from work, I worry about him crossing the street to take the dog out at night. I don’t trust anyone on the road. I never drove on dad’s street again. I still don’t like hearing screeching tires or horns. Every time I come to a light, I have to keep myself from watching the rear-view mirror. I’m constantly ready for evasive maneuvers. I finally had to accept the fact that if I’m meant to die in my car, I’m meant to die in my car. I could have died that night, but I didn’t. I walked away. I lived, and now I’m living. I owe all thanks to God and my MINI, my dear British Chap who sacrificed himself for me.

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I’ve got a new MINI now. I call him Richard. I’m living with my wonderful boyfriend, the man I was lucky enough to live to meet. We moved up to Saint Paul and got the cutest puppy in the world, Olive Adventure. I’m still seeing a chiropractor for my neck and back, my fractured toes still give me trouble every now and then when I run or exercise. I can’t do much on my knees. My chest bones pop occasionally. And I’ve still got my Frankenfinger.

As for the driver, well, he got a bit of punishment after sobering up in jail that night.

I wonder if he’ll think about me today around 930pm.

He’ll be thinking about me soon enough when I start recouping damages.

What Is Life

Almost a month ago, I spent my last night in Omaha.

Most of my things were moved already, and all that remained were a few odds and ends, and my furniture.

The morning of the big move, I was seriously anxious. What was going to go wrong? What was going to get broken? What if this happens? What if that happens? I was also very emotional, even though I tried my hardest not to be.

My parents showed up to say goodbye; mom was a bit weepy and, of course, my dad says the things I always need to hear: I am worthy, I deserve everything I want, I can do anything I want to do, and I am loved. So, there went the tears. My brother showed up a bit later and stayed with me until just before I hit the road. He helped calm me down and let me know on his way out how well the moving truck was being packed. Phew.

The drive up here went by quickly and slowly at the same time. I got caught in five o’clock traffic just two miles from my exit and I was absolutely livid. I just wanted to be there!

That evening, and the week after, are a total blur of unpacking, buying shelving units and other fun IKEA things, building said things, hanging photos, organizing the kitchen, organizing the closets, etc. Oh, and sleeping poorly because one huge window in our bedroom was missing blinds. Waking with the sun every morning, regardless of when I went to sleep the night before, was aggravating as hell. And didn’t really restore me for a new day of work.

By the next week, we were already looking at puppies to adopt. I got Andrew caught up in the search and essentially all of our texts consisted of puppy photos all day. We knew we wanted a bigger dog and we wanted to adopt a rescue. In looking at the adoption process, I got discouraged. An application, an interview, references, a meeting, a home visit?! Jesus Christ, are we adopting a child? Applying for a government job? I had no idea it was so thorough and difficult. I understood and completely support the method behind the madness, but for those of us normal, decent human beings who aren’t going to chain the dog up outside 24/7… ugh.

We ended up applying for a dog that we totally fell in love with and then got denied because another couple was ahead of us in the process. Then we applied for a couple more and the same thing happened. At this point, I’m going, Jesus Christ, I’d almost rather pay double to just get one from a pet shop. But instead, we applied for a few more.

Finally (I say, finally; it was probably like, within a couple days), we got invited to go meet one of the puppies. He was adorable and cuddly and I think Andrew was pretty goddamn set on him. We fell asleep that night discussing ridiculous names, such as: Sterling The University of Nebraska Cornhuskers versus The University of Iowa Hawkeyes… [last name].

We communicated to the foster mom and the lady from the shelter that we indeed wanted this little pup… and then we never heard anything from the shelter.

Then, in true things-happen-for-a-reason fashion, the day I was bitching about the lack of communication and consideration, I got a call from another foster mom about another puppy we’d applied for. Apparently the people who wanted her were having trouble coming up with the adoption fee (red flag, much?), so if we want her, she’s ours.

I think this was a Wednesday. We set up a meeting for Friday, we filmed a home video (in lieu of a home visit) Thursday, we drove an hour to meet her Friday, and that night, we brought her home.

Meet Olive Adventure (and insert heart-eyes emoji):
Olive Adventure

She’s a (now) nine-week old Shepherd Mix. We aren’t sure what she’s mixed with, but we’re pretty sure that it’s a wirehair of some kind. She’s a joy and a laugh and a little shit and a snuggler and a whiner and so sociable and sweet. She’s super outgoing; she’ll go up to anyone and any dog. She wants to play with everyone. She doesn’t like being hot and will whine (kinda like me) and she has recently started fording the stream in the park across the street.
Olive in the stream

Andrew and I are now ‘daddy’ and ‘mommy’ and we’re just totally in love. (Cue: ‘awww’)

We’ve had her a week and a half now and, well, she’s exhausting. ‘Daddy’ is at work five days a week, so ‘mommy’ has to do the most potty breaks and cleaning up accidents and trying to get her to stop biting or chewing on absolutely everything. Not to mention, she’s up with Andrew when he gets up for work (somewhere in the neighborhood of 6am). So yeah, I’m getting a spa afternoon on Thursday lol

Adding to the frustration, I’m getting paranoid about my dwindling savings, so I’ve resumed the job hunt… again. I’m being fairly goddamn picky because I just am, but I want it to be within walking distance (which isn’t a huge ask, seeing as we’re downtown), part-time so I can be home with bb most of the time, and not a receptionist or food service job. Actually, what I’d really like to do is some writing from home. If only I could get myself to finish that ‘novel’ I started.

I’ve also resumed the fitness journey. Buzzfeed posted that circuit workout a couple weeks ago and I’m on the third week today. You’re supposed to up the weight each week; I started with 10lb dumbbells. Because the tiny rec in my building didn’t have 12s, I had to go straight to 15s… And to be consistent, I need to use 20s tonight. I’m a tad nervous I won’t be able to do it all, because I also have to up the reps by two. I don’t know how much physical change I’ll see in two more weeks, and I haven’t weighed myself because fuck the scale, but who knows. I’ll prob just keep going with it and eventually be curling 50s LOL

Anyway, I love Saint Paul. I keep saying it’s like Omaha and London had a baby because it really does feel like home and the city I adore. Our apartment is brilliantly located a block from the train and ten meters from the park, a few blocks from the river and a half-mile from Starbucks (win). There are a bunch of microbreweries and awesome restaurants within walking distance and anything else is on the trainline. I probably came up here with 6100 miles on my car, and I noticed the odometer read 6171 today. So, about seventy miles in almost a month? Not fucking bad.

The only driving I do now is to the chiropractor, which is still only about seven miles away. It’s a different technique than I was getting in Omaha, but apparently, this is the next step in my treatment that makes the most sense. Here’s to hoping I get back to 100% after a couple months of this. I got really emotional when I had my consultation with the new bonebreak. It just dredges up all of the accident memories and memories of all the pain. It’s almost been a year and I’m still dealing with everything. Thank God for Andrew, seriously. What a loving, caring, thoughtful support system I have. I’m embarrassingly lucky to have him. And my family, holy shit.

Tell me, what is my life without your love? Tell me, who am I without you by my side?

When You Walk Through My Door, You’ll Be Home

When I moved into this apartment, I planned on being here for quite a while. I spent a lot of time applying for over 300 jobs outside of the Midwest and finally accepted the fact that I just wasn’t going anywhere at the moment. Hence, starting Far From Everything Films, LLC with Jennifer, and basing it out of Nebraska.

When I had spent two and half years being single, I planned on being that way for quite a while. I mean, I didn’t have a job-job, I don’t like bar-hopping, I’m anti-social; where the hell was I going to meet somebody? Hence, downloading Tinder.

When I started talking to Andrew, I really just knew that was it.

When he told me he may be transferred to Minnesota, I knew I wanted to go with him.

When he officially got the job and asked me if I wanted to move when my lease was up, I said, ‘yes.’

Today, we officially signed the lease. So, by the end of May, I will have become a Minnesota resident. 🙂

Heartache, Hope, and Headache

Lord have mercy.

When life changes, it certainly changes. Back in early November, I matched with someone on Tinder. I know. Tinder. Gag. I’d matched with a few people before, met with one, nothing worked out. I decided to delete the app and start over with it. I wasn’t sure what that was going to accomplish, but I digress.

I swiped right on a few guys and then came across this guy named Andrew. His instagram was in his bio, so I creeped. I really appreciated being able to do that because I got a sense of his personality and humor. He seemed sarcastic and into puns, quite like myself. Then I accidentally double-tapped one of his photos. Fuck.

Now, I could have unliked it, deleted tinder, and crawled under a rock, but that would have been a ridiculous overreaction. I went back into the tinder app and swiped right.

Shortly thereafter, he swiped right for me, creating a match. Ta-da.

I decided to be brave and send the first message. His bio said something about dad jokes, of which I am a master, so I messaged him some dumb comment about the aforementioned. It took a day or so (cue me biting my nails) and then he responded.

Within a very short time, he’d impressed the pants off of me. Well, okay, conversationally, anyway. We had several things in common, he seemed very gentlemanly and genuine – even over a tinder chat. He ended up asking for my number.

We texted a bit every day – good conversation, no small talk. Then a couple days later, I got a not-so-great message.

My mom called me and said that my Nana had taken a turn for the worse and likely had about two-to-three weeks left. She’d just been given her Last Rites since it’s getting to be about that time. I’d wavered on whether or not I wanted to go see her one last time. She’d had Alzheimer’s for years now and looked right through me when I saw her last Christmas. Selfishly, it wasn’t something I wanted to go through again.

Then Friday, 14th of November, mom called in the afternoon to say that Nana’s prognosis had moved from two-to-three weeks to two-to-three days. I wavered again about whether to run down to the home and see her, but the thought seeing her in her current state just about paralyzed me. She wouldn’t recognize me, she’s probably in pain, she’s sleeping anyway, etc. I decided to stay home, but I would talk to my brother about potentially going to see her the next day.

That visit never came, because around 11pm that night, mom’s name showed up on my phone. I knew right away what had happened, and my instincts were confirmed when she said, “this is the call.”

My beloved Nana had died. Those words are bitter in my mouth.

Sweet Nana is finally in Heaven and out of pain.

I needed to go for a drive.

I drove to Nana’s old house. There are new owners now and they were home, looking out the window for whatever reason, so I couldn’t stay. I wanted to sit in the driveway and look at it. I wanted to sit and imagine all the million times we walked or biked down the road to her house for frosted ginger cookies and milk. All the Halloweens we’d trick-or-treated and gotten loads of candy from her at the front door. All the Christmases we’d helped trim her tree with ancient ornaments and strands of tinsel that we got all over the floor. I wanted to imagine sitting on her dusty rose-colored couch and glanced over to her in her rocking chair – seeing her knitting a new scarf or blanket.

I wanted to get out of the car and walk around back to the garden. I wanted to picture her kneeling, in her skirt, on one of those foam knee-protectors and digging holes for new bulbs or annuals or perennials. I wanted to help pull weeds and put soil in behind the flowers she’d relocate. I wanted to say, “look, Nana!” and hear, “Isn’t that nice” in her way, where it isn’t a question, actually.

I thought about all the times we’d gone in her light blue Oldsmobile, and later her pearlescent Geo Metro, to the library. The only reason I had a library card was because of her. I thought about the walks up to Ponca, the jumping in puddles, the blowing bubbles, the reading; the painstaking time she would spend putting my hair up in curlers and wrapping a silk scarf around so I can walk home, the way she answered the phone (“erm, hello”) in her way, where it really isn’t a question, again, actually.

Nana was one of those people who I pictured having in my life until I was old and grey. She’d just always be there somehow. And now she’s gone.

When my parents first hired her, I was about six months old. She came looking slightly like a 1940s war nurse and told them that she would be addressed as Mrs Meyer. It wasn’t long before she was Nana; my Nana.

I drove back to my neighborhood that night and sat in my car for ages listening to music. I had been texting Andrew sporadically due to it being the middle of the night, the news, and the drive. I suddenly felt very strongly that I should just be honest with him about what had happened. We’d been talking such a short time and we didn’t even know each other, but I needed to see right then and there how this was going to go.

Either he would say no, we barely know each other, I don’t need this right now, I’m out with friends (he was out at the bar with friends, I knew); or he wouldn’t say any of those things. Somehow I knew he wouldn’t react like the former. And he didn’t. he said he was so sorry and he wished there was something he could do; if he wasn’t drinking, he’d drive out to see me.

We talked about sad music and how happy music doesn’t actually help when you’re sad because you can’t relate to it in the moment. He sent me a youtube link and said it always helped him. I thought, great, what is this shit going to be. I clicked on the link and as soon as the title popped up, my heart skipped a beat: Morning in May by Ludo.

No one knows Ludo. And anyone who might have heard Ludo certainly hasn’t heard the Broken Bride album. But here this stranger was, sending me the song from Broken Bride that never fails to bring me to tears.

This discovery turned into a conversation lasting until 3am, even though he had to work early. He made me smile and even laugh that night, one of the worst nights in my life. I couldn’t help but think that God had all of this planned from the start. Hell, I’m pretty sure Nana had a hand in this. If I hadn’t been texting him that night, I’d have been alone in my thoughts and feelings. Everyone else was asleep or out of town. Nana took care of that. She was a caregiver til the end.

A couple days later, Andrew and I had our first date planned. I hadn’t had those butterflies in a long time. I didn’t want to spend too much time getting ready or coming up with any speeches or whatever. I was gonna be me and that was it. Furthermore, I wanted to be myself, not ‘better.’ I finally had hope again.

The date went amazingly. I knew I was in trouble from the get-go. And the best part was that he felt the same way. He asked to see me a few days later and did I say I was in trouble? Because I was in big, fucking trouble. Wow.

I’m being quite vague, I know. I just- well, this is very precious to me.

It hasn’t yet been two months, but I can’t remember the last time I’ve felt happier, more comfortable, and more like myself.

And then since it can’t be all sunshine and roses, the continued car accident stress..

I’ve been seeing a chiropractor three times a week. My body was working 42% harder than it should have been. (Not sure if I ever talked about the scans). My nerves had practically shut down. It’s getting a bit better; it’s changing anyway. I had an MRI on my right foot, come to find out that I have two fractured toes. That explains a lot. I have patella baja (shortened patella) in both knees thanks to the trauma. My wrists (left much more so than right) are still weak. Some bones in my chest pop if I stretch. Oh yeah, and I’ll need to start physical therapy now that the holidays are over.

The court date for the driver-at-fault drunk to enter his plea is in a week. I wonder how the past four-almost-five months have been for him. I see, via public record, that he’s just bought a house. Can’t be going too badly then.

Meanwhile, I’m just broken. Sure, it didn’t kill me. It could have, but it didn’t. It still could, but I won’t let it. What it did was make me weaker. Angrier. Cynical. It made me scared. It made me paranoid. It has taken so much from me and continues to take more.

Meanwhile, I’m the one who’s been in prison.

Vindication (Trust Your Instincts)

The last two times I had major gut feelings about leaving the house, I ignored them and ended up getting slammed into by neglectful/drunk drivers.

This time, I listened to my instincts and stayed home. Sure, a lot of it had to do with anxiety this time, but that doesn’t change the fact that all I’ve heard of today have been slick roads, accidents, stalled vehicles, and backed-up traffic.

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Not that I felt that I needed support for my decision to cancel my appointment this morning out of fear, but it certainly seems like my fears were justified today. Which subsequently lets me feel a little less affected and a little more responsible.

What Keeps Me Awake Now

Sunday, my dad invited us over for homemade pizza. “Aw yiss,” I answered with much enthusiasm. It’d been ages since he’d made pizza. I got the details from my brother and set my phone down.
Suddenly, I thought about what he’d said. “Pizza at dad’s.” “At dad’s.” Oh my God, I’d have to drive to dad’s. I started to panic. Okay, well, I could just take this back way and weave through the neighborhood so I avoid the street where I was hit. Then I could just park and walk to his place. But which way should I take? I don’t even want to take Center. I’ll take the interstate to I. No. I’ll take Center, but I’ll turn off on 132nd or something; maybe I can find the neighborhood that way. Then I’ll park and walk.
Wait. Maybe Conor can just pick me up. Then he can drive me. No. That’s stupid. Why don’t I just drive to his place and then he can drive me.
No sooner had I had that thought, Conor texted me: “Just drive over here and I’ll drive us to dad’s!”
Tears of relief hit me as I texted him back that I was literally just thinking the same thing. Panic attack averted.

I closed my eyes as he turned onto 120th Street. I know Mary was trying to talk to me, but I heard nothing. I didn’t open my eyes until we stopped in dad’s driveway.

Tonight, it started snowing. As soon as I saw a tweet about it, I jumped up and rushed to the deck. I was overjoyed – I love snow. It’s beautiful and calming and quieting and ’tis the season. I stood out on the deck for a moment and let it land in my hair. It was bliss.
As soon as I had sat back down and wrapped up in a blanket, I realized, with horror, that I would have to drive in it come morning for my orthopod appointment.
Now. I have never been fearful of driving in the snow. Or rain. Or wind. Or whatever inclement weather we get in Nebraska. (Okay, not hail). The only reason I’ve ever complained about driving in it is because it seems like everyone else in Omaha forgot how to operate a motored vehicle at the most inopportune moment. Just slow the fuck down and be aware of some things and it’s just like driving any other day: don’t be an asshole.
However, I now have to drive in weather with people I already don’t trust.

I want to call and change my appointment. Can it wait until another day? Not the first day of snow. I’ve been rear-ended on dry pavement. I’ve been hit head-on on dry pavement. Now there’s snow. People can’t have remembered their snow tires already; it’s so early. People aren’t ready for this; they’ve forgotten how to drive in it. Please don’t make me go. I need to go. I know I need to go. I’m still in pain and I need to go. Can’t it just wait until another day?
What if I can’t do it? I couldn’t even get out of bed to write this post – I started thinking about what I have to do in a few hours and I became crippled. What if I can’t do it? I can’t even sleep tonight, worrying about it. I have to do it another day. That’s all there is to it. I can’t. I just can’t.

Jesus. This isn’t me. I’m not like this. I wasn’t like this. The only thing worse than the anxiety is the anger.

I’ll have to drive in the snow eventually, I know. I can’t let this fear take over my life. But what was once a source of childish delight for me is now just another trigger. Just another thing that keeps me awake now.

Richard, My Darling

Richard, My Darling

After all the fruitless searches (thanks, Peter Gabriel), the frustration with MINI of Alexandria in Virginia (thanks, ‘salesman,’ for calling me back jerking me around and completely blowing me off), and the otherwise mentally-crippling anxiety (thanks, driver-at-fault), I found and bought the perfect MINI Cooper.

In the end, it was the first one I’d bookmarked. Of course.

I came across this blue beauty at MINI of Loveland in Colorado and really liked the look of it… minus the non-black wheels and the lack of sunroof and lack of heated seats. It was almost 100% what I wanted, but I wasn’t going to the whole settling predicament.

I had also found a nigh-perfect one in Virginia that ended up being sold right out from under me as I was speaking to the salesman about transport prices. The funniest thing was when someone from their customer relations department called me:
Guy: “I was wondering if you’d like to come out today or tomorrow to test drive something.”
Me: “Um, I’m in Omaha, Nebraska, so… no?”
Guy: “Oh, okay, (blah blah) Is there a time later this week you’d like to come out and take a look at our inventory?”
Me: “…. No. As I’m in OMAHA, NEBRASKA and I will not be booking a flight to Virginia, where you are, to test drive a vehicle I’ve been driving for the past four years.”
Guy: “Oh, okay, I totally get that. (Me thinking: Do you?) What can we do to earn your business?”
Me: “Well, you would have had my business already, but your salesman sold the car I wanted right out from under me, so I’ll be finding a MINI elsewhere.”
Guy: “Okay, well, please let us know if we can (blah blah blah).”

Yeah, no. I also got two calls from an English salesman (I see your strategy, MINI of Alexandria) assuring me that they’re looking all over for a MINI for me and they’re checking the auction list because they have the biggest used inventory in the country la-di-dah. Well, *checks watch* I wonder how long that list is, because, uh, I still haven’t heard back. Stay tuned to see if they ever find me a car!

Anyway. After all that garbage, I went back to the one in Colorado. The day I found it, I sent an email through their website asking some details and got a call from a salesman within the hour. It was late, even; it was like, past 6pm. Dave Parent of MINI of Loveland called me during an ice cream social they were having – yeah, the dealership was having an ice cream social – to tell me about the car and ask me some questions, etc. After that call, I already had an emotional attachment to this place and this car. I kept the tab up on my browser for days.

We talked again, and I told him the only thing kind of holding me up is the fact that it doesn’t have black wheels; by the time I spend the money buying black wheels, it’ll be way over my budget. He goes, “Why don’t I see if another MINI on the lot can swap wheels with it.” I was like, dude, if you can do that, it’ll be my MINI.

So a couple days later, he calls me back and tells me he wasn’t able to swap wheels without it significantly changing the sticker price, which I understood. This was after the MINI of Alexandria ridiculousness and I’d about had it. I told him the only other thing I wanted on that car was a luggage rack. He said, “I’ll put it on myself.”

Within ten minutes or so, I’d told him to do that and have it on by the next evening because I’ll drive down to get it myself. I could have had it transported for about $500, but where’s the adventure in that? Plus, I’m too damn impatient.

The next day (see, impatient), dad and I rented a car and set out for Colorado. This was the first time I’d been behind the wheel of a car since my accident (so, about forty-one days at this point), and I looked like this:
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The drive there went smoothly. There was quite a bit of anxiety to overcome, but luckily it was all interstate. The trees were changing colors and the weather was gorgeous. It was the perfect day for this journey. Then we encountered 5 o’clock traffic upon entering Greeley, which I hated. I was totally exhausted by the time we made it to Loveland.

But, boy, did MINI of Loveland totally rejuvenate me. That place is like a toy store to me. There are so many fun things and beautiful MINIs. The people are all great and enthusiastic. No one could believe I walked away from my accident and even asked to use the photos to show at meetings and to customers. Apparently, I’ve already helped sell a couple cars to people who worry about the small size of the MINI being unsafe. That makes me feel good.

I really wanted to cry right there at the sales desk. I’d just accomplished such a daunting task and overcome so many fears. I knew I was heading toward my freedom. I was heading toward the key to putting this awful experience and time behind me. It was going to be worth it. And my salesman and finance gal couldn’t have made the process any easier once I got there. They stayed past close and helped us into the MINI and directed us to an awesome BBQ place just down the road.

The next day, dad and I got up and had breakfast at the hotel. We were going to pop over to Estes Park to see the hotel from The Shining, but it was so foggy. Instead, we hit the road and took a detour through Wyoming, up to Alliance, Nebraska. I had never been in Wyoming and I had never been as far northwest in Nebraska. The drive through Scotts Bluff actually took my breath away – I couldn’t believe the land formations and valleys and trees. Who knew we had such a diverse landscape! In Alliance, we ate at a cute little diner off of Main Street and then popped over to see Carhenge.

Yes, like Stonehenge.
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I’d never seen it, so it was amazing. Dad and I spent some time geeking out, and then continued on home. Of course, with such a detour, we ended up with part of our drive past sunset. I hadn’t driven in the dark since the accident. Then we encountered some emergency closure of I-80 and had to squeeze into a caravan of semi trucks with trailers on a two-lane highway through a bunch of small towns. We were stop-and-go, and I was constantly worried the truck behind me wouldn’t stop in time, and at one point on the two-lane highway I randomly noticed how close opposite traffic was (I missed the median and four-lane interstate). There were a few times where my heart may have stopped.

We made it home safely and upon backing into my garage, I broke down. I did, not the car. I sat in my car and had a little weep. I stroked the steering wheel and tenderly caressed the dashboard and ran my fingertips over the MINI wings emblem. No joke. I didn’t know when I’d be back in a MINI Cooper. Let alone one so perfect for me. I didn’t know when I’d be driving again. I didn’t know how I’d do driving again. I made myself drive to Loveland, not only for the fun of it, but as a test. One I had no other option but to pass. And no matter how the drive there went, I had to turn around and drive right back. I was so proud of myself. I’d done it. And now I had him. My MINI. My darling. My Richard. Yes, that’s his name: Richard.

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It’s been a couple weeks now that I’ve had him. I’ve got my C. Friis rally sticker on the back driver’s-side window, I’ve got the grille badges on: a black, white, and grey Union Jack and then the Sir Alec quote, “I don’t want bloody women driving my car.” Those were the two I’d had on my British Chap; the grille, badges, and my license plate disappeared in the accident. He’s taken me to a friend’s wedding and to Target (oh lawdy, how I had missed going to Target) and to Starbucks. He whips ’round the roundabouts and is just a total stunner. I really couldn’t be happier with him.

Alas, I’m still incredibly anxious while driving. I have been doing my best to keep my eyes fixed ahead and not on the rear view window when I’ve come to a stop and I know someone is coming up behind me. Every car coming opposite is going to swerve at the last minute and hit me, I just know it. Honestly, the only way I’ve been able to get around that is to just resign to the fact that if that’s going to happen, it’s going to happen. And I’ll be hurt again or I could die. And my car will be wrecked again and I’ll have to start all over again.

Everyone says because I’ve been hit twice, statistically it won’t happen again. I almost failed statistics, so I’m not really sure I can grasp that logic. I think, if anything, it’s even more likely to happen again. I feel like a target. The dumb motherfucker who decided drinking and driving was a good idea that night sought me out. and now I feel like a target. Everyone is going to hit me and I don’t trust anyone. That person is going to decide they want that exit and they’re going to side-swipe me at the last minute. That person isn’t going to see me and they’re going to send me into the guard rail. That person is going to drop something and jerk the wheel and hit me head-on.

There was one day, though. One day since I’ve been back from Loveland, I went for a drive. Just to drive. Like I used to. I took Richard to Ponca Hills, my old neighborhood. I took him through the hills and around the bends and past my home that will always be my home. I took him out on I-680 and saw the trees looking like autumn and the sun was shining and I felt like myself again. Just for a moment. I hadn’t felt like me in a long time. I was on my way back.

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I am on my way back.

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