Daylight. The accident happened, but I had no idea how, a complete blank. I walked away from the scene and the only thing I could see was that I had apparently been driving Mike’s Oldsmobile 98, and it had some damage to the headlight and grill for which I felt bad about but nothing else. I guess it was an SVA? I leaned on the car and took inventory of my own damages, much worse than the car, but how? I was covered in road rash, some deep, some superficial but all my nerves were screaming. Two broken back ribs. Pain. I looked over at the building across the way, building number 1111, but one of the red plastic numbers had fallen off. I felt I needed to remember the address for some reason. No purse. No cellphone. No people. Just a one-car accident on a side street close to an intersection. I started walking but an ambulance rolled up, no lights or siren. Two men put me on a gurney, covered me with a sheet and strapped me down with three black nylon straps. Then came the waiting. Watching the world go by as I lay in pain waiting for them to get me to a hospital. But then they were gone.
I lifted my body up best I could to look around and saw me and the gurney were in the middle of the street behind the Olds, no ambulance. The straps weren’t very tight so I got out of them and kind of rocked the gurney down the hill and it landed in the parking lot of the building I saw earlier. Waiting. Nothing but pain. There was something between my knees, a large, rectangular black thing. I opened it and it seemed like a sophisticated phone so I started punching buttons and numbers. A woman’s voice from far away, “What is your emergency?” I explained, haltingly, the accident, the gurney, then nobody. It seemed to take forever for her to understand. Finally she said, they’re on a side street now. A toddler stuck in a ditch pipe, his grandfather was supposed to be watching him so everyone was mad at him now, and they’re trying to get the kid out. I guess I was supposed to wait?
I lay there and thought about my thumb drive. Where was it? I had a project due for college. As I lay there I thought about all the research, the fat file of papers full of jumbled notes and clippings that became a perfect, finished product ready to hand in. Where was it?
Notes on the dream. When I was around 17, I got into a really bad car accident. The officer was adamant that he take me to the hospital, but I refused. I was afraid for some reason of making my parents mad. He took me back to my boyfriend’s house on a dark road covered with three inches of greasy snow, making me promise that I’d get checked out in the morning. Somebody dropped me off at the hospital, and I went in alone to get my neck checked out. I’d never done the hospital thing before. They put me on a gurney in the hall and told me to wait for radiology. Okay. I was a very sheltered 17-year-old who didn’t know squat about life, so I sat in that hall, no book, no phone, no nothing, feeling like a prisoner on gurney island listening to what sounded like a baby down the hall being murdered for hours, no exaggeration. I didn’t know I could have gotten up off that gurney, walked away and asked to wait somewhere else. I know now that I don’t have to sit, stay, be quiet, or do anything else somebody tells me on command. I can choose for myself. This morning as I lay in bed grabbing those details and putting them in my basket before they could evaporate, I thought about the predicament of my dreaming self vs what I can do today.