This is about the time that my heart exploded in my chest, and then I realized that the fast breeze blowing through the strands of my hair was actually the air being broken by my airbourne vehicle:
This is probably what the police report and insurance claim reads because this was all I could manage to muster five hours after the accident:
"4:12 am. Was leaving DC and following the direction of my GPS system, took the tunnel leading towards the 295 SE/SW entrance but went into the wrong tunnel heading towards RFK lot. Entered into complete and utter darkness with no lights, no signs. Tried to adjust to the darkeness and just when I realized the pavement swurved to the left, I tried to turn left but had already hit the tree with my right side and turned upside down, did a 360 degree turn in the air befofe flipping back over and doing a 80 degree swurve to a stop."
The only reason how I know exactly what direction my car flipped, okay, there are two:
1. The fact that as my car impacted on the tree I felt my entire insides lift up from my stomach to my lungs, compressing together like a Slinky being turned upside down. What I didn't fully realize immediately? That I was upside down. And I caught a millisecond glimpse out the cracked glass of the passenger window enough to see the pavement at eye level, and the tunnel glowing through the darkness at me. That's when I closed my eyes to prepare for nothing, something and everything - all at the same time.
2. My Guardian Angel: In the form of a 6"5-6"7 thin-framed man in a red Honda hatch. An image that will stick with me for the rest of my life as a reminder that the smallest instantaneous moments can quite possibly bring you the most purest form of joy that you'll ever feel in a lifetime.
Hours before I would see the "light of life" and my car was left demolished, I had spent the entire day just trudging through work. It was just another day among the many where I kept wandering the maze of cubicles wondering why I still, without fail, park in the same spot, walk through the same building and sit in front of the same screen every single day and endure the bezerk behavior of certain people who have made it a career in having no basic social skills.
By the time 5 o'clock chimed in, I was ready to leave the smothering feel of work and escape to a place I knew I could just let go: in the presence of friends, dancing and just releasing all that anger and stress out.
Several hours later, Christauff and I were doing our regular Friday night ritual of walking each other to our cars safely. We had the miracle of parking on the same street as each other (a rarity to anyone who has ever tried to park to go to a club in DC) and I got into my car and watched as he walked across the street to his. I went to program my GPS to head home, and started to pull out of my spot.
There were a lot of little miracles that night. Little bits of instances that in retrospect, I will be grateful for, for the rest of my life. The fact that I had decided to go to Ultrabar where seven people I knew were going to be there, the fact that Christauff and I always walked to our cars together after the night was through, the fact that Christauff forgot that I had a GPS in my car and had seen me headed in a different direction than he thought would be the regular way for me to get home and just figured I was lost, the fact that he then, as a great friend with concern, decided to follow behind me to make sure I was headed in the right direction - and that he kept following me until he was 3/4 mile away in his car as he watched my car propel itself through the air.
I even feel blessed that I had had such a crummy week prior. I had pictures of my brother's bedsores running around in my head, constant thoughts of my brother's legs being amputated, depressed over my job and my inability to deal with overt micromanagement, frustrated with the outcome of my future - where was I headed with my life? how was I going to get there?, hurt from the loss of a friend and caught in a whirlwind of complete and utter confusion with life in general.
But in that millisecond glimpse of the world upside down, and in the next instant when I closed my eyes and prepared for what I feared to be the end, I found myself shaking away that fear, gripping the steering wheel with both hands tightly, keeping my eyes shut tight as my heart pounded in my throat, my ears, the pit of my stomach - I just let go of every single stress and hurt that I had been consumed with before - and relaxed my body and just breathed.
When I opened my eyes, glass was everywhere, and my hands were bleeding and so was a small patch on my chest where the airbag had hit. Smoke was all around me, and I turned my head ever so slightly to try and make sense of what my eyes were seeing through the cracked and broken glass window of my driver's door: Christauff, his red Honda hatch, and him running from his car, across the pavement, to open my car door.
I walked out of the accident truly unscathed. No broken bones, no massive amounts of blood. As I lay in the guestroom of Christauff's and his girlfriend's condo that morning, I kept counting the solid breaths of air that I sucked into my lungs.
"Someone wants you around, Em," Christauff had kept saying as we drove to his condo.
This is my second chance at life. This is my chance to keep living it without regret and to realize the true value of what I have surrounding me. I was given a second chance at this journey and I am not going to waste it worrying about things that I cannot change.