Tuesday, January 27, 2009

"You're what happens when two substances collide . . ."

Our bodies have pretty much healed, but I think my emotions may still be recovering from the jolt. I've been caught between the feeling of "Wow, I can't believe we walked away from that" to the morbid appreciation of the fact that had any of the variables been different during the crash, we would have been staring down a much bleaker fate.

Emotions run heavy after these sort of things, my friend Leslie reminded me. (Shameless plug for her latest Huffington Post article.) While this may be an observation of the obvious, it should be said. Yeah, deep emotions. Life and death emotions dislodged during impact. That stark realization that it only takes one event to completely undo life.

My world still feels a little bit like a snow globe, but it could be so much worse.

Friday, January 23, 2009

"Any other car and I might be dead."

We found out this morning that the car was totaled. I guess after going out to the body shop in Red Hook this afternoon, it's easy to understand why. The whole driver's side of the car was smashed in. I was unexpectedly emotional when I saw the car in that state and remembered that night last week and the screams and the blood. Ms. K was dumbfounded when she saw the car in the light of day and with a clear mind. "I had no idea the accident was that bad!" she said. "I don't know how it is that . . . ." She struggled to finish her sentence.

"How it is that we're standing here having this conversation?"

"Yeah. Any other car and I might be dead."

We found out from Chris, the body shop guy, the very one who had driven us home the night of the accident, that the man who us hit was going about 50 miles per hour.

"He didn't even have time to slam on his breaks," Chris added.

We're very lucky that it wasn't a head on crash. As today is Ms. K's birthday, it's been bittersweet to know that we escaped grievous bodily harm, yet have to deal with the burden of a totaled car who's value is worth less than the balance left on the car. I keep reminding her that we're so so lucky and that we'll figure the car situation out.

I have faith.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

"Honey, we're on the Gothamist newsmap."

Five days later and the once purple and red bruises have begun to fade, turning a sickly shade of green and yellow. There are still cuts on Ms. K's face, but they are healing. Although jumpy when he hears loud noises, Harley the dog still wolfs down his food and plays with his tennis balls like nothing happened. I guess this means we're all okay. If that isn't a miracle, I don't know what is.

Thanks everyone for your kind concerns and best wishes.

Monday, January 19, 2009

"You should have taken photos of your wounds"

My mom's phone call this evening has set me off. While the first thing she asked was if I was doing better after the car crash, the critique of what I should have done in its aftermath opposed to how I ended up handling things has stoked my inner infantile rage. You should have taken photos of your wounds, she said. You should have gone to the hospital, she said. You can sue the driver who hit you, she said. Yes, yes, and yes. But that's not my concern right not. My concern is that we all walked away from that crash with only cuts and bruises, that we are safe and well is the most important thing. To hell with the car -- easy for me to say admittedly since the car is not in my name nor my financial responsibility, but still. And I told her that. The fact that we all walked away from that crash should be your primary concern, I threw back at her in a steely tone, which is probably one of the first times I have ever expressed my true feelings to her. I think I may have hurt her a little, but she needed to hear it.

So, to honor one of my mother's wishes, I have taken a photo of my wounds courtesy of broken glass and the seat belt.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

"Serious MVA"

Apologies in advance for the longest post ever.

Ms. K and I had been driving back from Pennsylvania after a visit with her mother and father. The ride to Brooklyn was routine save for the bitchy toll both lady at the Holland Tunnel. Harley, our dog, sat in the back and I was in the front passenger seat. Ms. K was driving and we played 20 Questions to pass the time. We crossed the Manhattan Bridge and descended onto Flatbush Avenue and as we drove along, deftly avoiding crazy drivers and the cars double parked in front of Junior's, I felt that relief that comes with knowing that we were almost home after a long drive.

Ms. K later said that she had looked at the clock around the time we crossed the intersection of Flatbush and Seventh Avenue, noting that it was 9:52 pm. We entered the traffic circle at Grand Army Plaza, waited at a light, and then continued onto a stretch of Flatbush that runs between Prospect Park and the Botanical Gardens. I think we were still playing 20 Questions when I noticed a car swerve into our lane from the northbound side.

When I saw headlights come at us, there was a nanosecond before impact where I thought Oh shit, this is real. Is it odd to say that I felt calm? Strange to have been possessed by a unwavering sense that we would be okay? Somehow?

Ms. K swerved hard right to avoid a head on collision. I braced for the inevitable impact.

Boom. Broken metal, plastic, and glass.

Boom. Ms. K screamed.

The sensation felt like floating as the car spun 180 degrees and up onto the sidewalk along the park, our bodies cushioned by airbags and broken glass.

When the world stopped spinning, I was surprised by all the smoke in the car, an acrid and sulfuric powder that had been released from the airbags. It stung my lungs and eyes as I breathed in and out. The deflated air bag seemed everywhere and I struggled against it as I got out of the car. Ms. K was screaming for Harley. "Is he okay?! Is he okay?!"

Everything was moving so fast. Harley was in the back seat with his head sticking out of the blown out window, but it was covered by the curtain of the side impact airbag. I steeled myself for some gruesome reality, but he was fine. Freaked out, but fine.

Once he was out of the car I could finally take stock of what had happened. Ms. K managed to get out of the car somehow since her side of the car was all bashed in. I think she climbed out of her window. She had cuts to her face and blood streamed down along her eyes and hairline.

"Are you okay?!" I shouted from my side of the car as I struggled to keep Harley still, which is difficult seeing how he's about 75 lbs.

"I'm okay," she gulped looking like she was in shock. "Are you okay?"

"I'm okay." Nothing was broken and I was almost certain that I hadn't hit my head. It was literally ten degrees Fahrenheit outside and the force of the cold had made my body numb. I think I then noticed that my left hand was cut up and bleeding.

"What happened??" she asked, still in shock and looking as though she was about to cry.

I explained what I had seen before the impact. The swerving car, the headlights of a van or an SUV coming at us head on. I looked around the accident scene and saw a black SUV twenty feet away with its front end all bashed in. Across Flatbush Avenue was a unmarked white dollar van that had slammed into a light pole. (Dollar vans are like unlicensed gypsy cabs.) Two men were seemed to be assessing the damage of the van. Already park police were on the scene and trying to sort out traffic. The cop yelled to me from across the road to make sure we were okay.

I think I crossed myself about then, some old Catholic habit that I found myself resurrecting in the wake of our escape from grievous bodily harm.

About this time Harley, who had been struggling against me, slipped out of his leash and began bolting down Flatbush Avenue towards the zoo. Ms. K went running after him screaming his name to no avail. He was getting farther and farther away even as I tried to run after them lamely holding them empty leash and praying that he didn't run into the busy intersection.

"Please, God, please oh please . . . ."


Ms. K, a faster runner, already had some distance on my out of shape ass. But Harley was a mere speck on the horizon with no chance of either of us catching up to him. At that point a car pulled up along side Ms. K. There was some exchange of words and then Ms. K got into this car. What the fuck?! I tried to memorize the plate number as they drove away wondering if I would ever see her or Harley again.

So there I was on that desolate stretch of Flatbush and quite some ways from the accident scene. I held the empty leash not knowing what to do. I was in shock and cold. My bloody hand freezing -- painfully so. I started to walk the half mile back to the car, getting as far as the zoo when I thought to call Ms. K.

"I GOT HIM!" she cried immediately upon answering. The driver of the car that she had gotten into had seen the accident and had seen Harley take off. They managed to cut him off before he could run into the intersection. It's amazing that someone offered to do this seeing how she was covered in blood and hysterical. But that anonymous Samaritan is the only reason we have Harley back. Ms. K had practically tackled him to stop him from running away. I met them down at the intersection and we put him into his leash. Cops pulled up around that time and offered us a ride back to the accident scene -- the first and hopefully last time I'll ever be in the back of a cop car.

The rest of the experience involved questions, shivering in the awful cold, and medical attention in an ambulance. An EMT cleaned up and bandaged my bloody hand. The drivers of the dollar van were long gone, which meant we were the lucky recipients of a hit and run accident. [Nothing new by dollar van standards. Info here and here.] They wanted to take us to the hospital, but we were fine. Miraculously so. The car is probably totaled, but the most important thing is that we are okay. Bruised, but okay and so fucking thankful that we were able to walk away from that accident thanks to Ms. K's quick thinking and the safety of our Volkswagen Jetta. Oh and thanks to the NYPD too, they were so unbelievably nice. A retired cop even drove us home.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

My grandmother, Virginia Lee, is 90-years-old today. Here she is on her honeymoon in Niagara Falls circa 1940. I don't really know her as she is a private person and she doesn't say much unless she finds out that you don't go to Mass anymore. Then you're in big trouble. Suffice to say, she doesn't know I'm gay and that's alright. But I wonder what secrets she's holding on to after 90 years . . . .

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

"There is something freeing in putting it into words. Sometimes that is enough."

In the midst of last week's psychic turbulence, I managed to release something that had been pent up inside me. Or maybe I integrated something that had been disconnected. I feel better I think; I can move on. Hooray for that.

I guess I never really explained how my Christmas went and how I managed to appease my mother yet keep my own precious sanity. I took the 8 am train out of Penn Station on Christmas morning and arrived at my parents' house before noon. By the evening of the 26th I was back in New York and nursing a sick girlfriend back to health. I'm sure my mother wasn't too pleased by my in-and-out visit, but it's about as much as I can stand before I get jittery and yearn for the comforts of home.

Thursday, January 08, 2009

"New Year? Time to clean out the old emotional closet?"

On Tuesday I wrote a very personal blog entry that in some ways was a confession. It poured out of me inexplicably after I read something online that touched deep into the recesses of my psyche, connecting with some unprocessed pain. Short of posting the blog entry, I instead sent it to Ms. K to get her reaction. The subject was nothing new to her and she acknowledged that what I wrote was deeply deeply personal.

"Are you sure you want to post it?" she asked.

At the time I was almost certain I would. As the day went on, however, I decided to hold onto it for the time being. I wanted to think on it and gain some perspective over my raw emotion. But the story was still inside of me begging to be released and so I found myself spilling my soul out into a 1,200 word stream of conscious explanation of something devastating that happened to me two years ago -- the very event that I vaguely talked about in my withheld blog entry. The words came out of me like a dam breaking forth and the shear act of doing so left me emotionally exhausted. I wrote until the story was no more, transferred from amorphous emotion into black digital type.

I'm not sure what to do with what I wrote. Currently it resides as a saved draft in my email and the original blog post I mentioned is also in limbo. Perhaps I will post later . . . or perhaps the purpose of writing what I did was not to share, but to have it out there so to speak. We will see. No offense to my dear friends reading, but these are the times I wish this blog was truly anonymous.

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

"I love you A Lot. Enough to wait on the F Train Forever."

I saw this bit of graffiti scrawled onto the paint chipped column along the Brooklyn bound platform of the F at 34th Street. For anyone who has had to take the F Train, truer words have not been spoken . . . or sharpied.

Monday, January 05, 2009

"Ho ho ho. Santa needs some whisky."

For me, 2008 was one of those years. Profound. Seismic. Transformational. As December counted down, I thought I would feel a eulogy stirring in me, fingers itching to explain the year with wistful poetic words or some black humor. It didn't happen and so I marked the transition into 2009 quietly and home with Ms. K, the both of us recovering from bad colds as we watched episodes of The Wire.

Like many I was glad to see 2008 go. The year had started off so nicely -- Ms. K and I spent our first real stretch of time together, cooked a nice dinner, and drank successive glasses of prosecco between sessions with our new toy from Babeland. A week later her life in Pennsylvania imploded while I was spending the night in the emergency room of St. Luke's Roosevelt Hospital with a debilitating case of the flu. (Ah, memories. $5,000 only gets you the best in this city.) So we spent the rest of the year trying to put our lives back together. We moved in together. We fought. We made up. We realized we want to spend the rest of our lives together.

What do I want for 2009? I want to continue to build upon the foundation I created in 2008. Smart money choices and even smarter career choices. I want to laugh more. I want to reconnect with the world. I want to travel -- dear GOD my body aches for a beach and sunshine! I want a lot of things, but mostly I am grateful for what I have because it was hard earned.