Yesterday was move-in day here in Bloomington, with flocks of anxious parents descending on the vehicularly constipated city to drop their children off in front of their dorms, bid their tearful good byes, and then travel back to their cities of origin. I normally shy away from driving in the city on days such as these, when a combination of anxious parents, one-way streets, and frustrated townies create unfortunate conditions for traffic, but couldn't this year. I had tutoring and needed to be at a certain place at a certain time.
It was after leaving that place that I stopped on one of the busiest streets in the town and, while waiting, was hit from behind. I think I remember seeing the Subaru in my rearview mirror and thinking, "she's going to hit me, what do I do?" but am unsure whether that actually happened or if that's simply me constructing the story of what happened after the fact. Regardless, her Subaru SUV collided with the back end of my Saturn, propelling me into the gentleman ahead of me. I remember hitting my brakes, thinking that I might be able to avoid hitting his Honda, but to no avail.
After it all happened, I sat in my car, dripping with the diet soda I had bought at McDonald's just moments before. I was shaking and breathing heavily. I had never been hit before, much less inflicted vehicular violence on someone else. There was so much to process: what was the next step, what just happened, was everyone okay? I could see the woman behind me walking around her car, the man ahead walked around his. They both checked on me. I was shaken, but fine. Flashing lights and sirens and badges and the handing over of papers. I stayed in my vehicle for all of this, not climbing out until we cleared the road, in anticipation of the 5:00 rush.
"You stopped. I saw you in my rear view. You were stopped," the man driving the car my car collided with told me when we climbed out of our cars after pulling onto a side road. I breathed, having run through the scenario in my head repeatedly, attempting to conjure up the appropriate emotion: shock, guilt, exasperation?
I landed on fortunate, feeling fortunate that everyone was fine. I kept thinking back to the moment I realized what was happening and how fragile I felt, at the beck and call of forces of physics as force moved through metal structures. Fortunate that, in the grand scheme of things, the only thing that needs to be healed is the hatchback and front end of my car. These things are replaceable.
Oh, life. How delicate and surprising and tricky you are.