We punctuate our lives in our own ways. Birthdays, anniversaries with our spouses, our children’s births, crushing Ole Miss losses. My late sister Lizzie was born on August 24th, 1992, the day Hurricane Andrew made landfall in south Florida. In 79 CE, on August 24th, Vesuvius blew its top off and annihilated the bay of Naples, taking the populations of two gorgeous seaside towns with it. So it goes.
On I think August 14th, 2000 or so, I was involved in a serious car accident. I was 16 years old, and I was driving with a friend in the front passenger seat. I was trailing an 18-wheeler on a suburban Atlanta four-lane stretch, which are ubiquitous in that part of the world. We were both in the right lane, me behind this mammoth semi.
He moved into the lefthand lane, without so much as a signal. I shifted down into fourth gear and accelerated to pass, because I was a 16 year old race car driver. I was driving a Dodge Neon, by the way, which was the balsa wood of car safety regulations back then. Well, this truck wasn’t moving left; it was moving right, and it was moving right directly on top of us.
"WIDE RIGHT TURNS" means something.
I plowed directly into the right side of its trailer at close to 50 miles per hour in a Dodge fucking Neon. The front left lumber upholding the windshield immediately collapsed on top of me. The windshield itself exploded into the car, coating Ryan and me in blood. Everything exploded. My entire life and sense perceptions exploded. I ducked to my right, into Ryan’s lap, and that 18-wheeler dragged us around the corner, steel screeching around in our ears all the way. Thank my stars he actually stopped.
There are still scars from my ruined car in the pavement of that intersection, and I always look for them when I drive through it.
The police came. The semi driver paced around and smoked cigarettes. My dad showed up. I was too delirious and in shock that I had survived a major collision that kills people every day to even speak coherently. “It’s my fault,” I think I kept telling the officer. I’ve never seen my dad so ghost white — maybe the day he passed his first kidney stone, which is probably like the third most terrifying day of my life.
I tell you this because you should never, ever count out how lucky we are to be here. That liminal moment when I asked whether I would live or die. All of human history and future slammed into my brain and I slammed into that semi and I wanted to die. Death was finally fine.
As a human, it’s wonderful to be here, but it’s also terrible, which is part of what makes it wonderful. There’s nothing on the other side, as far as I’m concerned, which tethers me into this life, here. An unstoppable Dodge Neon meets an immovable 18-wheeler at nearly 50 miles per hour and somehow, inexplicably, I walked away from that shit. Would that others were so lucky. Would that Lizzie were so lucky. She wasn’t, and for that I’m sorry, Lizzie. I’m sorry, Sarah. I’m sorry, Mom and Dad. She was beautiful.
That car accident — violent and terrifying and self-realizing as it was — made me partially who I am today. A writer. A teacher. A mentor of the absolute best students on earth who do the best work for me. You are all the best, even the Alabama native who emails me weekly and drops in a “ROLL TIDE” in his missives. Wonderful. He’s hilarious, and I’ll write him the best recommendation letter that’s ever been written for wherever he wants to go, because he’s a good fucking student.
We’ve yet again met with an immovable object faced with an unstoppable force: death. This is fun, especially as a blogger. I’m a blogger.
That Ole Miss should meet LSU on Saturday at the height of this season’s Rebel powers feels almost preordained. Of course they need to play COACHO fresh off a 57-point output. Ole Miss’ offense was an unstoppable force against Vanderbilt, and LSU’s defense has shown itself to be some registers south of an immovable object to this point in 2017’s proceedings.
On Saturday, the shithouse rat collides directly with that semi, at 50 miles per hour. Let’s fucking go.