My cousin was visiting me from New York. We had plans to hike Camelback and then grab some lunch in the afternoon.
I was really feeling the new Jennifer Hudson album. Something about her reinvented pop sound was pulling me in. The way I am with music that I like; I listen to an album or project on repeat until I’m bored. On January 2nd, 2015 I found a shocking reason to stop listening.
We pull up to the intersection of the Papago freeway and McDowell, red light. My eyes shift down to my phone to adjust the song selection, I click one of the catchiest songs from JHUD, “Dangerous.”
“I do it for the thrill, even if it kills… DANGEROUS, you make me feel DANGEROUS.”
My cousin and I laugh and sing as I set my phone down, grip both hands to the wheel, and accelerate softly at the indication of the green light.
I am shaking fiercely. I am looking into the eyes of the passenger in the wreck across from me. I am fumbling for my seatbelt. I am looking at my cousin. I am asking if she is ok. I am pushing away the air bag. I am shoving open the door. I am breathing in smoke. I am running around the side of the car. I am pulling open the passenger side door. I am crying. I am cursing. I am looking for who was involved. I am processing. I am speaking with other victims. I am confused. I am calling my parents. I am hugging my cousin. I am speaking with strangers. I am waiting for help. I am waiting for help still. I am still waiting. I am taking pictures of the damage. I am worried. I am not speaking to others due to legal liability. I am angry. I am judging the man who ran the red light. I am defensive. I am scared. I am not understanding. I am drawing blanks. I am talking with police. I am glad everybody is ok. I am waiting for my friend to pick us up.
I am pedestrian.
You can have all your ducks in a row in this life, but there will always be one out-of-balance individual slinking around somewhere that could change everything you know to be true.
I had no idea that I was going to be living a green lifestyle for over a year now; reducing my carbon footprint by walking, biking, taking the train, and taking the bus. I had no idea that losing my vehicle would make me far more tolerant of humanity, that it would make me friendlier, more caring, more resilient, and more resourceful in my surroundings. I had no idea this experience would force me to confront my anxiety issues, and embrace patience as a healing agent in my life. I had to learn to ask for help, I hadn’t realized how much my friends did for me or what they were willing to do for me. I didn’t expect that my drawn out commutes would reintroduce me to my strong passions for writing, reading, philosophizing, and digging for music. My concept of time, gratitude, empathy; forever evolved. Places I had once feared became my comfort zones. I never thought I would have so many stories to tell; that in such minimal distances I could travel so far. I learned to travel through people, our local culture. I met my city by foot, I spoke to my city by bike. All the sweat and tears and time and ridiculous encounters have been worth every lesson I have learned in this experience. And perhaps I could have saved for another car, but I chose not too… Because how trivial it would be for me to spend the purse I hoped to cultivate on a possession I proved to myself that I no longer needed. I frequently think of my friends in Brazil, how the idea of owning their own car someday was mind blowing; a foreign concept. I realized how privilege disrupts our potential.
What’s next universe?