Sunday, February 08, 2009

Woe is we

I was planning to write a blog detailing my trip to Washington, D.C., to witness Obama's inauguration. I got back at midnight on Wednesday, slept on Thursday, which was Mark's birthday, and got in a bad accident Friday night. I have not been able to sit at a computer comfortably for some time. I'm doing better, but the D.C. wrap-up will be lengthy, I feel. I'll get back to that soon.

I've been having some flashbacks lately. To fall of 2005, to be exact. Right after Katrina, when people would try to comfort me after going through a harrowing ordeal that still haunts my dreams and which I see daily reminders of still, and losing all of my possessions. I've detailed this problem ad nauseam, so I'll cut to the chase: people are saying, "Well, it's just stuff. It can be fixed/replaced."

I don't know why people feel this is something to say to someone in the grieving process. If your child or parent or best friend died, would you want people to say something similar? That's not comfort. That's crass.

After Katrina, I was told this many times. And now, I'm hearing it again. "At least you're alive. You can just get a new one."

Two weeks and two days ago, we were going to dinner to celebrate Mark's 30th birthday. We got in my lovely little Rav4, which I bought to replace my sweet little Corolla, who died in Katrina. We stopped at a redlight at Veterans and Causeway, right in front of a Payless. We were third in line and had been there for a while. Suddenly, there was a loud bang. We jerked forward rapidly, then back, then forward, then back. The guy in front of us got out and looked angry. He thought we'd caused it. But we didn't. A woman slammed into the back of us. Part of a car (turns out it was mine) was caught between the body of my car and the rear tire. The guys in the Dakota in front of us said to pull into the Payless lot, so we did. The Accord that slammed us stayed where it was and appeared undrivable. We were in shock. We'd been at the light, for a while, and there was no squealing tires as she slammed her brakes. Why? Because she didn't.

I'm 95% positive that she was drunk. She had a friend following her home. The friend came up to us and said, "Let's just swap our numbers and talk in the morning, okay?" I said, "Not with the police on their way." She said, with a dismissive wave, "Did anyone even call the police?" We all said we had, as soon as the moment of impact ended. She was pissed, went out to her friend, and talked to her for a minute. The woman started her car, which was leaking fluid everywhere, and started driving. One of the people said, "Don't worry, we wrote down her license. And...she's not going to get very far like that."

She pulled into the parking lot, to our amazement and stumbled around. She came up to the victims and slurred, "Don't worry. I do this 24-7." I couldn't control it. "What? You rear-end people 24-7?!?!?!" She stared at the space between me and the wall and gave a dismissive wave, then stumbled off. I wish I'd let her speak. I'd love to know what she does 24-7....

The cop came, got out of his car long enough to gather licenses and registrations, then stayed in his car the whole time. He finished the Dakota first and sent them away. Then he finished us. Mark asked if he would please test the woman, and he said he would. My parents were there, and Stan checked my car to see if it was safe to drive. Some things had moved, but he deemed it workable. Still hungry, shaken, and cold, with stiffness settling in, we went ahead to get dinner. We were at our table when the cop walked to the bar to pick up an order. We doubt that he tested her and are livid. We haven't seen the police report yet.

Long story short, I went to the ER for pain on Sunday night, spent a week of working half-days and floating into and out of comas from painkillers, and had my car totaled.

Everyone says be thankful that we weren't more seriously hurt. I am aware of this. We are so very thankful that we always wear our seatbelts. It could have been much worse.

But here's the thing about my car. I truly, truly, truly loved her. She was with me the day I was leaving work and got a phone call from my dad, who'd driven past our Lakeview home and saw that they'd finally towed away Lucy, the Corolla. I cried in the school parking lot. "It's over, baby. You can move on now," he said.

She was my escape when life at my parents' house got too heavy to deal with. I could get in, drive around, park in my old driveway or at the Lakefront, and clear my head and tearducts. Yup, guys, that's where I would disappear to. Sorry to have caused you worry.

She was where I went when I thought I was losing my job at a school that I loved, where I truly felt appreciated. That was something I'd never felt before in a job. I remember standing in the St. Laurence parking lot, key in hand, taking deep breaths and thinking fast. We had to save the school. But how? She brought me to school that jubilant day when Reggie Bush came to sign over $50,000 to keep us open, and didn't mind being put in the grassy area so that the media and dignitaries could park in the parking lot. She was with me when we moved from the Metairie campus back to the Mid-City campus in an effort to stay open.

We took her to househunt. We drove past our house for many months, stalking the place we wanted so desperately. She drove us to all of the places we needed to go in order to buy the house. She lugged tons of paint and glass and tools to fix the house. She was a valuable member of our moving fleet. She looked so proud parked in the driveway and under the carport.

She was our home away from home during our exhausting 36-hour evacuation to Indianapolis from Hurricane Gustav. She was a trusty, quasi-comfortable place for us to sleep when there were no rooms at any of the inns.

Most of all, she was a symbol of my adulthood. My '94 Corolla was a used car, a gift from my parents upon graduating from Nicholls. Rava, so named because way back when the car was first on the market, my dad thought that was what the logo said, was different. She was the first thing I'd ever bought with my own money. She was mine, all mine, and I loved her. I couldn't afford fancy carwashes, but I kept her in fantastic condition on the exterior. No wrecks, no nothing. I might have left some junk in her from time to time, but always changed her oil, got her brake tag on time, and made sure she didn't get too far below a quarter of a tank of gas. I removed the antenna to do the cheapo carwashes at gas stations from time to time. I didn't take her offroad, even though she could have. Lakeview is as offroad as she got.

She was my one true possession immediately following Katrina.

I had 2 years and 11 months until she was totally mine. When her note was done, we were going to buy Mark a new car. He drives a '97 Mercury Mystique. Or, as Les the mechanic calls him, the Mercury Mistake. Never heard of one? That's okay. No one has. My father is a third generation service station owner, and he had never heard of one until he met Mark. His car is falling apart daily. And we can't afford another note. We can barely afford our regular bills each month. More than anything, this wreck is a symbol of despair. What are we going to do?

So, please. Withhold the, "You have a nice new one now!" and the "It's just a car!" comments. Because now we're 6 years away from him getting a car. Not less than 3. So buy him something before you make those crass comments, and understand how much I'm hurting, physically, emotionally, mentally, and fiscally.

Goodbye, my baby Rava. You served me well, and I'll always miss you.

1 comment:

Emi said...