Saturday, April 24, 2010

The Accident...Part II: Clairvoyance and The Effect of Animals

I do not claim myself to be clairvoyant. I am not opposed to the fact I would say I wholeheartedly believe that some people have this ability. I certainly do not have any gifts toward that end. However, during the time whilst making decisions about my method of moving across country (do I buy a car and put stuff in storage? do I go for it with a large U-Haul?), I was haunted by daydreams of a car crash in which my dog died.

These daydreams, if you could call them that, were more like in the back of my head, really…not something that I envisioned in front of me...and they felt like jolts of screaming anxiety. They felt like jolts, that is, unless I allowed myself to drift off and really see the manifestation of one of my deepest fears (i.e. watching a beloved pet die in front of me), then I was outright freaked for a good the point of needing medication at times.

The nightmare (isn't it really a daymare if its in the day?) consisted of me all alone, driving a forest-green, Jeep Cherokee-type vehicle on some stretch of desert highway, when suddenly and without warning, there is a loud crash and my dog, Jasper, is going through the windshield. Even now I can see it, and it makes me shudder, fight tears away, and most certainly feel that same jolt of anxiety I felt back then whenever I had the thought.

Nowadays, when I am feeling rather than thinking, I often feel/think I was seeing an alternate path to this same destiny, as I tend to believe there are several routes we choose to take, for good or bad, to lead us to the same significant destined points in our lives. Kind of like how we can drive 5 different ways to get to the grocery store, but in the end they all lead to the store. One route might take you through a neighborhood with beautiful mansions, while another may be just a quiet country road, and a third takes you through a ghetto with people accosting your vehicle at every stoplight. Anyway, I think I happened to see that one particular "route" so clearly, that I was able to avoid its scene entirely; yet regardless of this, like I said, a different route can still lead to the same destiny.

But like I said, I am not clairvoyant, so what do I know of alternate paths and whatnot? I can tell you that the ultimate “rationalization” was that the pets would be a nuisance whether I was in a car or a U-Haul; thus, it only made sense for me to fly them home and drive on without them in the mix. I did the flying adventure with 3 pets across the continent, inclusive of 2 stops. Poor things. We made the mad-dash journey on September 16th, and I stayed for 5 days to acclimate them to my mother’s home; the place to which we were all headed until I could successfully change my working relationship with the company in Cambridge from a highly-used consultant to full-time employee, at which time my moving to Massachusettes would be a sure thing.

The acclimation process was nothing for the animals. The outside temperature was still rather mild and the cats at least were super psyched to have a larger house in and with which to raise havoc. Looking back, I think the acclimation process should be described as me standing between my mother and my animals, particularly the cats, who were clearly going to ruin her house and the life of her 100-year old, deaf as a polk cat, Liz.

I remember being incredibly sad the day before I was to go back to California. I wasn’t going to see my pets for 3-weeks. My mother, whether it was a serious comment or an attempt to make me forget my sadness, kept repeating that it would be the longest 3-weeks of her life. Yeah, bet she wouldn’t have said that had she known what was to come.

I sobbed the day I left my mom’s to go back to Cali. Mostly because Jasper, as we shut him (and the cats who didn’t mind at all) in the cellar for the day,  was giving me a look as though I was coldheartedly abandoning him there. Because Jasper was my only consistent companion over the last 8-years, I knew those looks well (just as he knew how to give them to me in an effort to guilt me...crafty dog). And as I walked up the stairs to the car, and ultimately made the trek across country that day, there were no words to describe the heaviness of my journey...particularly because I knew that there would be no life in my home when I returned.

As I said in Part I of this story, we set out on Monday the 28th in the afternoon. My partner drove the first shift, and I did my best to get some sleep, though it wasn't easy...I was too excited and hey, it was the middle of the day. But somehow sleep found me on and off between stops for gas, etc., until finally, at approximately 4 in the morning, my partner was ready to call it quits.

He had found a nice truck stop for the exchange. One in which there was a place for me to wash up and change my clothes...a clean place no less. I got myself all ready for the coming day (teeth and hair brushed, face washed, new clothes, the works), and left with some breakfast munchies and a ginormous, yummy coffee.

I climbed into the U-Haul, this time on the driver's side, and took a deep breath. I remembered my inital reaction when I had went to get the van in the first place, which was something along the lines of, "this is such a bad idea". But I kept telling myself that those were just the nervous thoughts of someone who had never driven a vehicle such as this, and that if I thought about it rationally, I would see the obvious: that everything was going to be just fine. I was going to be driving on stretches of freeway which were pretty much straight and uncrowded. I-40 through New Mexico, Texas, and Oklahoma is all pretty much like that, I recalled to myself from memories of my last 2 trips on that stretch of road.

So I was as confident as I could be as I pulled onto the freeway in the dark at 4:30ish in the morning on September 29th.  We were just outisde of Albequerque, Mew Mexico., and my partner, who had been driving now for a very long time, went straight to sleep.

There's one thing I have come to know about our great nation's landscape: sunrises and sunsets are wonderful in New Mexico and Colorado. I drove for about an hour and a half before the sunrise I was hoping to see showed up. It was so beautiful that it could make your heart sing, so I hung my iPhone out the window of the Van and snapped a few pictures as best I could without aiming. This picture was the only one I actually took, and it doesn't even come close to what was there that day. And even so, its still really beautiful, isn't it?  It was the last sunrise I was to see for weeks.

It may or may not be obvious, but the sunrise wasn't what led to the accident. It was, as you may have guessed, an animal. It wasn't my dog because he wasn't there...instead it was a flash of silver hair...a fox or a hare perhaps. Instinctually I moved out of the way (which is to say that I "swerved", except you don't really swerve in a fully-loaded 17' move/glide over) and onto the shoulder. I moved over smoothly and without injury to the animal.

Looking back I realize that at that exact moment, the moment when I swerved to miss the silver animal in the road, my "different route"...the route that I had chosen to take so that Jasper would not be killed in an accident...had just found its intersection to the same destiny I was always to reach.

I realize in my times of reflection that yes, I did save Jasper's life. There's no question that neither he, nor my cats would have survived that crash. But as I sit here using hindsight I realize that I failed to recognize something very obvious in that recurring daydream/nightmare. I had failed to pay attention to the recurring thought of an accident on a stretch of highway that looked just like this one.

And now here I was...