On December 20th, 2013, my boyfriend and I were on a road trip from Oakland, Ca to visit family in West Virginia and Philadelphia, before we relocated permanently to New Orleans. Because we planned to move out of Oakland after the holidays, we had all of our belongings packed into our 1986 Toyota 4Runner. About 6 months before our trip, I finally got my drivers license, at 26 years old, so this was my first road trip in my first car, and I was so excited.
Unfortunately when we drove 7 miles into Oklahoma, everything fell apart. 5 or 6 miles into Oklahoma, we realized we were driving through an ice storm. We decided to get off at the next exit because we wanted to play it safe. I really wanted to make it to Oklahoma City, but I realized that the weather was really shitty, and our broken heater did not provide any visibility.
I drove over about 2 overpasses without incident, but when I hit the 3rd overpass, our 4Runner fish tailed 3 times before finally sliding over the edge of the road and rolling down a 30 ft enbankment. Our SUV flipped about 5 times, but miraculously my boyfriend and I were unharmed. The whole experience felt like an anxiety dream where I have no control over anything while terrible things happen all around me.
When we finally landed at the bottom of the hill, I heard our dog faintly barking in the distance. When I starting to think about our situation, I feared my cat, who was sleeping under my boyfriend’s legs, had probably been smushed, and I was terrified to feel around the area. Luckily, he was not there.
Dustin and I were able to crawl out of the drivers side window and when I looked up the hill I noticed a patrolman already on the scene. Apparently he was there because another car crashed moments before we did. He said he witnessed our accident and thought that we would be severely hurt. I couldn’t believe that we weren’t.
We realized that our dog had sprinted from the scene and off into a freezing rain storm. While we collected what little property we could fit into a patrolman’s trunk, we desperately tried to find him but had no success.
Without filling in all of the other details, our 4Runner sat at the bottom of the hill until the storm passed because it was too risky for the wrecker to tow it out of the embankment. For about 18 hours, almost every piece of our personal property sat exposed to a freezing rain storm. After two days of searching, our dog was found, but our cat was not recovered. All of our personal artwork and supplies had been destroyed or were too large to fit into a cab’s trunk. We took a 2 hour cab ride to Oklahoma City so that we could rent a car. We were able to raise enough funds from loving and generous friends and family to help us make it home. And life went on.
Recently I read a Kinja post where someone was trying to describe their depression and it gave me the urge to try and articulate what I’m feeling. I have been experiencing a variety of vulnerable states lately. I wouldn’t say that I’m depressed, but I feel… very emotional. In the end, the accident didn’t so much change our plans or our lot in life, but it definitely affected our psyche.
I can’t really speak for Dustin, but for me it just made things in my life begin to feel…. less secure. Like everything I take for granted could be shaken beneath me. It doesn’t scare me or anything. I guess what I’m feeling is some loss of security about those basic things in my life that I always believed would be as I expect them to be.
Maybe it was a belief of invincibility to those things I never thought would change….. I’m having a difficult time articulating it… I’m not saying that I never think that tragedy might strike or something negative might happen; such is life. I guess what I’m talking about is the security of knowing that if I plan to drive somewhere, I will reach my destination. I’m talking about those basic securities. Not those grand, existential experiences. And after all of this, I believe that we need those basic securities so that we can potentially deal with those huge tragedies in life that alter our sense of being forever.
I am not feeling depressed over the accident, even though the potential is definitely there. I know exactly what depression feels like and could describe it in great detail, but that is meant for a different post. The main theme of this post is my chronic, humming, uneasiness with life now, along with my strong desire to cry. And the desire to cry is not due to fear, desperation, and loathing, but more a desire for a cleansing. Maybe what I’m hoping for is some sort of closure? Some hope that security will be restored? Whatever it is, I’m giving myself the time and devotion to work through it, and I hope that I can always give myself the consideration of healing that I’m allowing for myself right now.