Grand Junction or bust

I was driving out to Grand Junction one Friday morning on I-70 – daydreaming about how much fun I was going to have this weekend with my friends cross country skiing.

In the blink of an eye I was quickly rattled out of these thoughts. Suddenly I lost control of my tires on the black ice and started Fish tailing. Each swing of the car got bigger and bigger until I knew I lost control. Of my steering wheel, of my entire existence.

It all happened so fast, but I’ll never forget the moment before impact when a voice calmed me. They said “you’re going to die, try to relax” At that moment I hit a guard rail on direct impact which sent my flipping over the right side of this bridge. Vail is known for their ice and cliffs. For some unexplainable reason, I did not flip off the bridge. The airbags that I LITERALLY HAD REPLACED 12hours prior detonated. My windows shattered and my phone managed to steadily play “A Thousand Miles from Nowhere”

I am surely dead. Is this what the afterlife looks like? I quickly want to be the furthest distance away from this machine that almost took me. The abrupt blare of a truck horn jolts me back into the safety of my car, despite all the exposed, broken glass everywhere.

I feel a soft throbbing pain on my head and reach up to discover my hand is filled with a small pool of blood. Suddenly I am filled with panic. What just happened??? How am I alive and without something rammed into my body?

I see a young man running toward my from his pulled over truck. I lift the flap of my deflated driver door airbag to talk to him. Tears are suddenly flowing down his eyes as he is immediately relieved to see me alive. It was as if he saw the entire scene from a distance and together we witnessed something unremarkable.

They asked me to quickly describe what happened. I said I fish tailed and sort of blacked out the rest. I didn’t actually find out until later that I flipped. Then followed a series of questions, the last setting the tone for how I would handle this entire aftermath. “Who is the current president” and I respond “Biden, but it depends who you ask” he laughed and walked me to the ambulance.

Unable to open the other doors, which were lodged in, escorted me around the shoulder of the highway into the ambulance. It was once a peaceful, still morning. Yet now at the early hour of 7am over ten people were chaotically walking around. A large clean up crew to pick up all the debris that left my car in the crash. I wonder if a fragment of my soul is to be found on the cold concrete. I was in a daze, walking toward the warmth of the ambulance as people asked me questions and walked the scene. In the ambulance they were stunned. Expecting to tell me I had a concoction. Certainly waiting for me to release the paperwork that we were all going to the emergency room to stitch the blood coming out of my head.

They thought I needed one to two stitches, but that was probably because they wanted me to get checked out regardless. In my brief experience with ambulances I just know you don’t want to ride them. What country do we live in that encourages people to avoid basic needs such as health care, in order to avoid the financial impact?

Continuing the jokes I responded “guys, you’ve been great, thank you for the blanket, but offense, I do not want to ride with you”. They first attempted to tell me that I was stuck on a highway and that I needed to find a way off. Knowing they were not my only option out of this mess, I just said, I can walk, honestly I probably need to. That’s when they said that is not safe and spoke with the state trooper to take me. I signed my release form and got shuffled into another warm vehicle.

The state trooper was young, dark and handsome. I tried to get ahold of my nerves as I watched him fill out his paperwork. That very moment felt like an out of body experience. It was as if I were dead and I was going through the daily routines of these strangers. Kind humans that were just doing their job.

He asked if I had anyone to call who lived around Vail. I almost said no, but then one name came to mind. The name of someone who immediately upon realizing I was alive, was my one call. I’ll never understand why I didn’t call my brothers or sister. Perhaps I didn’t want to scare them and this man felt like someone who would actually be there in a flash. And I was starting to realize I really needed someone there. As independent as I am, this was not a day I could have done alone, without the help of so many people.

The state trooper quickly picks up on my rush of adrenaline and wise-cracking jokes. I was quickly realizing my car may be completely totaled, $12,000 vanished into thin air, yet I was SO DAMN GRATEFUL TO BE BREATHING. He even wrote me a ticket and I thanked him.

He attempted to draw out the scene. He was incredibly perplexed and quiet staring at the paper. He then says “you flipped.” I shoot a look of bewilderment “really?”

“Yeah, check out your roof. You can see the damage. What I don’t get, is how you flipped and managed to land like that. I’ve seen many, many accidents working in this field for over a decade. Yet I have never seen something like this. You are incredibly lucky to be alive”.

I sit still, attempting to process those words. Then immediately stumble on my words as I reply “I know. I don’t know why, but I know.”

We eventually leave the scene two hours later and I am dropped off at a nearby gas station (because he can not legally take me to a hospital). I am recognized upon entered the doors as “the girl who had the big accident this morning”. The mountain town cashiers and people were very kind. The owner of the gas station brought me tea and offered to clean the goosebump on my head with hydrogen peroxide.

I shook my head yes and started crying as an overwhelming amount of attention and love swarmed me. I could feel it. He patched me up and was one of many hero’s that day.

My one phone call man drove two hours from another town when I thought he was currently in this town that morning. He saved the day and showed me again what it looks like to turn lemons into lemonade.

I am forever thankful for the kind souls the universe has placed into my life. It appears I just became a little more spiritual afterwards: I couldn’t understand why I was given this second chance, but certainly felt more purposeful because of it. In this life, it is understood that we really only get one, and we must live it to the fullest.

Yet now that I’ve been given this incredible gift of a second chance, what would I do differently? For starters I would immediately get out to the desert.

Marooned on an Island pt.3

I became good at projecting what people wanted to see. It didn’t help that older men would arrogantly say “Why don’t you smile?” without realizing how sexist they sound. All the negative emotions, those are my memories to examine, mine to shove into the pit of my stomach, mine to hide. Whenever the conversation of my parents came up, it became instinctive to pretend they were both still very present in my life. Over the years I learned how to respond to this question, because when people actually find out what happened, their reaction was incredibly disappointing. It is bad enough that we do not have the answers, but to carry their pity is unnecessary weight that only makes it worse. I decided it was easier to deny his death toward others, and ultimately myself.

So I did what came naturally. Seemed fitting for the concrete jungle, seeing as everybody keeps their emotions to themselves anyways. It really was the perfect place to isolate my heart. Trapped on this island of bittersweet numbness until someone would rescue me, or perhaps, I would rescue myself.

It takes a lot for me to trust someone. I learned quickly in college that partners are selfish, uncompromising and continued to see it in every relationship I attracted. I was content with close friends, both men and women, and simply enjoyed that kind of love. No need to complicate it with passion that would inevitably fade. Despite the chip on my shoulder, there was one man who slipped through the cracks and appeared as a sudden beacon of light in a dark restaurant bathroom line. He came off so incredibly genuine and caring, that I couldn’t help but let my guard down as our friendship blossomed. It didn’t take me long to figure he was also carrying a small piece of baggage, but I didn’t care. It fit so well with mine. Together we took our luggage and adventured anywhere the wind took us.

Weeks turned into months and life suddenly became purposeful. Slipping into routine, I found myself looking forward to our weekly hangouts. I had never felt this way about someone before; the calm satisfaction of knowing who you are when they are around. With each romantic dinner, with each mundane bagel morning, there was this…je ne sais quoi.

It carried on like this for a while; I was regaining trust and confidence that maybe the universe wasn’t that savage after all. Life was good. So good, my roommate and I wanted to host a celebration. We decided to throw a rooftop, speakeasy-style (later got busted) taco party on our Chinatown apartment. I invited him, and to my disappointment, he avoided the text completely only to reply a week later that he was not in town and now wanted to hang out. Thus began the conflict of my close friends urging me to ditch this joke. I was confused: how could we continue to have these movable moments, yet feel so stagnant at the same time?

As silly as it seemed, this taco party was the tipping point for me. Familiar feelings quickly resurfaced. I shouldn’t have let him in. I wasn’t strong enough to go through another heartache. I soon realized that I was depending on this person to replace the people I have lost. I had not forgotten about my best friend or father, but he was distracting me from reality. What would happen if he left me and I had to face that sorrow again? I couldn’t bear the thought of crawling back into that dark hole. So I did what I do best: I ran.

I took a life-changing trip to clear my head. It was enough to give me hope for a better future and meaning to life. Months after, my job and housing situations were stuck in this vicious cycle and once they conveniently and simultaneously crumbled, I decided to take my exit. I put in my two weeks and gave notice to my not-so-nice landlord in Dumbo. I hammered the nail on the coffin by purchasing that ticket to Norway at the end of February. I would be damned if I had to spend what is always a depressing month in this lonely city. There was no turning back now – I was leaving NYC and everyone there behind.

Yet there was one thing I didn’t account for. I was so empowered and certain of my decision that I failed to predict how he would react. I assumed it wouldn’t effect him much and wrote it off. For someone who was so uncertain about their emotions, he certainly knew how to confess them all at once. Words were flowing out like endless rain into a paper cup – the sweetest love-struct sentences one would ever hear. Perhaps I hurt his ego and he didn’t like the idea of knowing yet another woman left him because of his incompetencies. Perhaps everything he said was true and he was really bad at expressing feelings. All I knew is he was depriving me of feeling wanted and I deserved someone who wanted me. At the time, I wasn’t proud of my actions, but his words never left me. I desperately wanted to believe the best in him. After all, love makes you do crazy things, right?

Wrong. It took me three years of sorting through the confusion. It became clear that he only wanted what he could not have. What kind of person is so bitter about the breakup that they don’t want you to move on either? It was bad enough that I wasted a year of my life trying to convince myself I finally deserved love. Yet he took it a step further and prevented me from experiencing love with anyone else. I may have been miles away, yet he was controlling my actions, well aware of everything he falsely promised, later writing it off as an unhealthy time in his life. If you are somehow reading this, I forgive you for being so cruel. I am at the very least thankful for the memories shared, and hopefully showed you how to love the next woman. You certainly taught me the value of feeling secure in a relationship.

So here I am. Marooned on this island, compiled coral by coral of all the lies I have stacked. Everything leading up to this moment has been one big fantasy. I was silly to think I could actually replace someone. I subconsciously held on because I didn’t know what else to do. He reminded me both of my father and best friend, so I built up this image of someone who is not. To acknowledge that it is over is to acknowledge that my dad is gone, and Mylena as well.

Life is great at sending storms, but it also has a way of providing a life raft. Question is, will I take it? Do I know, nor care where it is going? I am so tired of carrying this self-loathing. Tired of putting my hope in false promises. Surely anything is better than this paradise of putrid.

I can now see that I deserve love. Despite my attempts to fend it off, I have wanted it all along. Perhaps you have to be deprived of all the love in the world in order to realize there is so much to be shared.

Thank you Michael, for the endless nights of listening to me babble on your boat.

NEW AGE CALI GOLD RUSH!

It was a Cold February,1901, when Walter Dimmick walked out of the San Francisco Mint carrying a small travel suitcase with him.  He was tired looking and worried as he was ready to climb into a vehicle, when a gentleman approached him seeing him struggle  with the suitcase.

Ode to an Italian summer and old friend

There is something very instinctual about humans.  As children we are able to follow our hearts, without the weight of the world influencing our decisions.  While many people are forced to grow up and forget, Mylena Kate Chavez was someone who never lost that innocent instinct. Continue reading “Ode to an Italian summer and old friend”