Once upon a time I was working full-time as a nanny. I had just gotten back from my mission and I was deeply unhappy. My days were spent commuting in the snow, taking care of children and sitting in my room. I had no friends. This is starting to sound a lot more pathetic than it actually was, for although I was lonely and sad most of the time, that kind of solitude only makes one more appreciative of all the things one can do alone. I started working in the temple. I went for runs. Nobody pulled me out of that darkness. I pulled myself out. Then, fortunately, I made some of the best friends I have ever had, and that was incredible.
During the course of my pulling-myself-from-abyss time, I decided I wanted to buy a car. This is harder than it sounds when one is working off the books and lived in a foreign country without employment for the previous year or so. I talked to some people and they were sympathetic but ultimately unhelpful. I remember the following evening well. It was a weekday and I decided to pray about buying a car, which probably sounds ridiculous. Whatever. I totally did it anyway.
The prayer went a little something like this. It will sound quite casual and perhaps irreverent to your ears, but that's just how I pray.
"Hey, God. So I've been thinking I want to buy a car. I'm working now and I definitely think I can afford it. My commute is currently an hour and a half both ways and if I were to get a car it would probably only be about ten minutes. That would save me a lot of time and I have better things to do. At least, I'm pretty sure I do. Also, I promise if I had a car I would use it to serve others. I think people other than just me would benefit. And I could drive to church when the rest of my house is ready to leave and I am not instead of just staying home. Essentially, we would all win if I had a car. I have no idea how this could possibly happen since apparently I don't qualify for like a loan or anything because of my mission--thanks a lot for that, by the way ... just kidding!!! Anyway, I feel this would be a good thing but I can't make it happen on my own. Thanks for listening."
I kid you not, the NEXT DAY my father called me and said that my godmother was looking to sell her old car, and would I be interested in buying her old Kia?
This solidified my belief that God listens to my prayers even though the things I say are often kind of stupid. This probably also explains why I frequently offered to lend my car to friends in need. It was part of the bargain.
My godmother smokes several packs a day, and I don't think my car ever REALLY stopped smelling like cigarettes. My friends claimed that they didn't notice, but I think they were just being kind. Also, another previous owner was a pothead who had driven the car into the ocean (true story) and so the engine had some pretty bizarre salt-water damage, which is worse than regular water damage. I spilled a big thing of grape juice on the passenger seat when I was trying to drive to a party for the kids in my Middle English class with the dog in the car (bad idea). And I scraped the passenger door pretty badly when I tried to back into the narrow driveway at my first house. I was out of practice, having not driven in several years + being blind in one eye has always made me a poor judge of distance.
However, this car was paid off by me. I OWNED it. It was the first grown-up thing of value that I actually owned. Which was a crazy feeling. I assumed that I would drive it until it died, or until I decided to move somewhere where owning a car would be practical, such as New York City, or anywhere abroad. Although it was a depreciating asset, I had an ASSET, for crying out loud. So even though it was kinda musty and full of dog hair and such, I did love that car.
And I suppose, technically, one could argue that I did in fact drive it until it died.
Poor baby car.
I don't remember exactly what happened. What I can remember is that I was driving my car on northbound I-5, and I looked down for a split second, then I looked up again, and there was a car right in front of me that appeared to be stopped. I later learned that it wasn't stopped, but that's physics for you. Anyway, there was a loud crash and then I heard nothing, and then through the smoke I saw the car in front of me drive away (in my shock, I thought that was because his car was completely undamaged, which of course wasn't true). I sat there for a minute and stared at my smoking hood, realizing that there was no way I would be able to drive my car even to the side of the road. So I reached for my phone and dialed 9-1-1.
Apparently, it's a big unusual to report your own accident, presumably because most people are either too injured or too disoriented to call anyone. Or they can't locate their phones. I thought about calling my dad after I got off the phone with the 911 operator, but that's a phone call nobody wants to make. "Hey, parents? I just crashed my car on the highway and I'm waiting for the ambulance to take me to the ER. There's not really anything you do at this point, though. Bye!" So I just sat there and waited and thought to myself, shit. My car is broken. And I crashed my car like a stupid teenager. This is so humiliating. And then I cried.
I did not cry because I was grateful to be alive. I want to make that perfectly clear. I cried because I had owned something that made me an adult and then ruined it in a very un-adult fashion. And because I was embarrassed. I really don't think I have ever felt so stupid. I should note, though, one thing I did that was not stupid was turn on my emergency flashers. Even though they were on, it is an absolute miracle that nobody hit me from behind while I was waiting for the ambulance to come.
An ambulance came. The EMT was about my age and asked if I knew what year it was. Then she asked who the president was. I laughed. A state trooper opened my passenger side door and asked me some more questions. Someone else strapped a neckbrace to my head. A firefighter asked if I had any allergies, seizures, blackouts, did I use drugs, was I on any medication. No, no, no. Just an idiot. They wouldn't let me walk to the ambulance. I had to be carried on one of those board things. Another firefighter taped my hair to the board.
In the back of the ambulance it was just me and the EMT who arrived first and asked me what year it was. A state trooper stepped in and informed me they would be issuing me a ticket. I almost said something rude but I held my tongue. We drove to Harborview without any sirens. While we were in route to the hospital, I started laughing hysterically, then crying again. It must have been kind of unnerving. The EMT kept telling me to take deep breaths, which was a bummer for her because I almost always hyperventilate when I cry. She put me on oxygen.
Triage at Harborview is always really crazy. I lay on the stretcher in the waiting room and signed consent forms. One of them asked about what religion I was. Then the rolled me into another room with some other people who also looked like they had been in car accidents. Lots of doctors. They kept poking me and asking me to evaluate my pain level on a scale of one to ten. Apparently, if I had exaggerated just a tiny bit, I could have gotten some cool narcotics. Oh well.
By this time I had figured out that I probably wasn't hurt very badly and I just wanted to go home. Oh yeah, and I called my dad from the bed. I had always thought that cell phone usage was forbidden inside hospitals. Not true! Anyway, they put me on an IV and did a bunch of CAT scans and X-rays. It wasn't painful except (TMI) after the IV was in for a while I had to pee really badly and learned how to use a bedpan. That was cool. Also, (MAJOR TOTAL TMI) did you know that one of the ways they determine whether there is any paralysis in the lower back is through a rectal exam? It's true.
They put some morphine into my IV and suddenly, I was very very grateful to be alive. I realized that had there just been a few more inches of intrusion into the car or if my airbag hadn't deployed properly, or if someone behind me had been as spacey as I had been, I would almost certainly be dead. What would have happened if I had died? I ruminated. It would have been sort of anticlimactic, I think. I haven't even done anything cool. But maybe the Dead Girl's Blog would have been published. That would be neat. But my parents would have cleaned out my room and found a lot of embarrassing things. These were my actual thoughts.
I don't think I need to be the one to tell you that the damage is irreparable. The damage to my car, that is. My body is surprisingly fine. Some bruises and soreness, but overall alive, well, un-paralyzed. Apparently I am some degree of invincible, because I got into a serious car accident on the highway and I DIDN'T DIE. Of course, one never knows when one has fulfilled all of one's destiny and can safely die in a fiery car crash, so I won't be pushing the "Invincible Elisa" thing too far, I promise you.
In case you were wondering, I talked to the guy I hit on Friday, and he is fine. He didn't even have to go to the hospital. His car is totaled as well, though his damage wasn't nearly as bad (it was an SUV, but an older one). He was gracious and understanding and my insurance seems to be taking pretty good care of him. Additionally, I am very grateful that his kids weren't in the back of the car on Thursday. I would never have forgiven myself for that.
I hate to reference specific companies on my blog because I don't receive revenue from anyone, but indulge me in saying that the people at Geico have been extremely kind, helpful and understanding. They are covering my medical expenses and giving me a small amount of money for a new crappy car. Bless their corporate hearts.
It's great to be alive, you guys.
This song is only sort of related. I just really like it.