March 14, 2011

Leaving It Behind Me

I keep having dreams about car accidents.

I've always had dreams about them, actually, but now that I drive daily and have my own car, they've become more frequent.

I've always suspected I'll die in a car.

I might drive off a cliff. I might crash through the railing of a freeway overpass. I might rumble through a highway divider. I might careen sidelong into oncoming traffic.

Luckily, I've been in very few traffic accidents in my life - most of which were in college, either because Maria and I were rearended in the rain, or I hit a deer on the dark, winding rural roads of Hamilton, NY. But recently, less than a month after leasing my brand new car, I swerved off the side of the road, over the shoulder, straight into a street sign, which clipped my passenger side rear view mirror hard enough to send a cascade of broken mirror glass into the car through the window, glittering my dashboard, seats and carpeting.

I've been a little traumatized ever since.

Whenever I drive in LA now, particularly during my daily commute, I'm constantly looking in the rear view mirrors. I'm terrified of getting rear-ended again, and constantly try to plan my escape if I see the car behind me approaching too quickly, or not paying attention, or losing traction in the winter rain that has put a bit of a damper on the idyllic California weather I was so excited to experience.

Ironically, I think I actually caused such an accident last week, when I stopped short to nab a street parking space on Sunset Boulevard instead of paying $10 for valet. A taxi likewise stopped short behind me and the car behind him crashed into him.


But the longer I drive, the more I realize: I can't spend all my time watching what's going on behind me. I have to look forward. And I can't worry about who or what is going to hit me, from the front or the side or behind. At some point, I have to leave what's behind me...behind.

I have to drive like I've never been hit before.

I have to love like I've never been hurt before.

Otherwise I'm going nowhere.

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