Thursday, April 23, 2009

You Just Never Know

It all happened within a few seconds.

One moment, I was cautiously navigating my car down a village street, willing it to get me to my destination only a few short blocks away. The next, my car and I had come to an abrupt halt on cement steps leading up to a house, airbags deployed, windshield splintered, wisps of brownish smoke slithering from somewhere behind the dashboard.

In the moments before those two moments, during the last mile or so of my drive, my car’s brakes had begun to suddenly feel strange, soft, spongy. I vowed that once I parked the car, I would leave it there until I could call John for advice or get it towed to our mechanic’s shop. But how bad could the situation be? The brakes had worked fine on the way to work this morning, as well as when I’d first left the office this afternoon; now, so close to getting to where I wanted to go (a hair appointment, of all things), driving a good ten miles an hour under the village speed limit, and keeping a few car lengths behind the vehicle in front of me, I believed I was taking all the right precautions.

Then the vehicle ahead of me stopped to make a left hand turn. I gently braked, but this time my foot went to the floor with absolutely no resistance. As I headed towards the vehicle’s rear end, I yanked the steering wheel to the right with the hope of bringing my car to a stop along the curb. Instead, it jumped the curb and tried to ascend a set of cement steps leading to a house, where it came to the abrupt halt described above.

In the moments between those two moments, I thought about my upcoming Florida vacation, that I’d be late for my hair appointment (yes, really), and, oh crap, that John would think this was my way of getting a new car.

This accident happened to me a week ago, and I actually walked away from the incident with only a couple of minor aches, some funny tales to tell, a whole lot of gratitude (it could have been worse in just too many nightmarish ways), and a new experience to add to the lifetime of real and imagined experiences that I already draw form when I write (or, for that matter, when I dream). More silver linings than clouds, don’t you think?

As for my hair appointment? My stylist squeezed me in once I’d arrived, a mere half hour late, via a squad car. I made it to that evening’s live performance of Sweeney Todd as well (talk about the dreams I had that night!). Today I bask in the Florida sunshine. And I should have a new car by next week.

You just never know when and where inspiration to write will strike.

Here’s to your writing success.

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