These days I spend my Friday nights in bed, either nook reading or writing, but ten years ago, I was out clubbing almost every night. Hours of dancing were followed up with a slice of delicious pizza at the Kenmore Pizzapad or with a sandwich wrap from a middle-eastern street vendor at the back of Fenway Park. One Friday, I said no to pizza. I really wanted to go home and get some sleep. Driving down the crowded Lansdowne, sweaty, tired people enveloped my car like a herd of wild bull.
I waved good bye to friends and headed for my parent’s crib on the south side of Beantown.
Invigorated, still going strong at almost three in the morning, I wasn’t tired at all. I was not inebriated, only a little hungry. It was a beautiful summer night. The air was clear and the sky still dark enough for stars. I noticed not many were out. I drove home singing along to Cocteau Twins, window rolled down all the way to allow the warm summer breeze seep in. I remember thinking the highway is exceptionally busy, which was unusual for the hour.
I was driving 60 mph. When I was about to go under an overpass, a gray van full of rowdy boys came hurling out of nowhere. I almost ran my car into a wall, reacting in a millisecond. I turned the steering wheel far over to the right, as fast as possible and very forcefully, trying to avoid a collision with the van. There was no breakdown lane to my right, only a stone wall. Somehow, I never hit that wall.
Instead, I made a 360-degree turn. I remember seeing bricks, then, when I regained consciousness, I found myself in the center lane, at a complete stop. How did my car stop? How did I get to the center lane? How was I still alive? If I passed out, which I must have, is it possible I made that 360-degree turn myself? My gut feeling kept saying “No.”
An image of my grandmother’s sweet smiling face came to mind. Next, I remembered the vehicles to my left prior to the incident. There were so many cars at my side, behind me, ahead of me. The very idea of them coming immediately prompted me to turn on the engine, rushing forward, before someone hits me from behind.
I took my foot off the brake, looked into the rear-view mirror and – I couldn’t believe my eyes! It’s as if a giant invisible arm brushed all the vehicles far behind me, more than a hundred feet! We were separated by a foggy film of air. Where did the fog come from? It was such a beautiful summer night!
A chill came over me. I understood what happened, although, none of it made sense to me. I stepped on the gas pedal, slowly moving forward 20, 30, then 40 mph, all the while feeling eyes on me. By this time, the vehicles which were mysteriously moved far behind caught up with me one by one. However, I soon realized I’ve seen them all before. The vehicles passing me by were the same vehicles I had already passed earlier that night.
I wasn’t tired at all. I was fully awake; this was no illusion. I didn’t have a drop of alcohol in me. I wasn’t sick, I didn’t hurt my head.
I was in the Twilight Zone. The vehicles were the same color, carrying the same people inside as I have seen before. Like any sane person would do, I comforted myself by telling myself that what I’m thinking isn’t true. I said it out loud several times until I was almost convinced nothing at all happened.
Sorting my thoughts, I spiraled through emotions and tears filled my eyes in memory of my grandmother. Perhaps, it happened? Maybe, she did save me. I felt uneasy, swallowing hard. Ready to bawl my eyes out, I pulled over to the “breakdown” lane. There, I received the biggest shock of all.
The gray van with the rowdy boys swished past me as if for the very first time! They were screaming out the windows, just as before, same drunken frat boy expressions, shouting the same lame words I heard before: “Whooooooohoa, baby, baby, how ya doing tonight?”
I was frozen in place. It happened. It really happened! I smelled the summer breeze, I heard the boys shouting, I saw the accident take place, I felt my grandmother all around me and I tasted my own tears. I can’t deny it. It was real. My senses told me it all happened.
It’s like the proverbial tree. If no one hears it, did it fall? If I had no senses, dismissing what happened to me would be easy. However, I saw, heard, felt, tasted everything. It happened. It was a very scary realization, but in a way, incredible. Is this all we are?
Descartes’s “I think, therefore I am” took on a whole other meaning for me. The electrical impulses we call perception of our senses create our reality? I felt like something “out there” didn’t want me to die. Maybe I was meant for something great, something I have yet to achieve. But, who’s watching?