I’ve been a bit quiet on the blog for the past few days. I’m afraid some posts I’d planned to get up (March Link Love etc) have been a bit delayed.
Trying to process some recent events that have had me feeling really out of joint. Jeff and I had been heading to Ottawa via North Bay last Thursday for Easter and my Birthday, when the weather got bad very quickly. Snowstorm with white out’s and poor visibility to say the least, we hadn’t expected it to hit so soon, and based on weather reports it wasn’t even forecast to hit us at all.
But it did, and it felt like it was just us and huge transports on the highway. There wasn’t anywhere immediate where we could pull off, and when the highway curved around we hit an icey patch and lost control of the wheels. We started to fishtail, the jeep spun around as Jeff tried to regain control to no avail. I remember him calmly saying to me “Hold on, we’re going in”. And then the next thing I knew we were upside down rolling.
Everything slowed down, we just locked eyes while we and everything in the jeep was tossed around as though we were in the inside of a tumble dryer. Mini cream eggs and large glittery plastic eggs escaped from the baskets we’d put together for our nieces. Our practically full coffee cups departed their cup holders and I remember Jeff trying to grab them and knock them away from me so I wouldn’t get burnt.
So many things went flying through my mind.
And suddenly we landed and normal time started again.
We stayed calm, confirmed neither of us were hurt or bleeding, looking around while strapped in and trying to quickly ascertain the situation.
It’s weird the little things that never would occur to you about car accidents, like turning the car off – there was an insane whirring sound, and it took a moment after we landed to realize it was the engine and the wheels were still going.
We landed on the passenger side, windows against the ground, in a ditch off the highway. I unbuckled and got back in the jeep so Jeff could get down as he was held in by his seatbelt hanging sideways. The back window in the jeep had popped open so we got out that way, gingerly stepping on the windows, a sideways world and finally out into the open air.
We were unscathed and walking away from a complete roll over off the highway. No oncoming traffic, no broken glass. I didn’t know what to do next, we stood there with our cellphones out. My initial thoughts given we were ok were: Was this an emergency? Do I call 911? I don’t want to be a bother! My friends Califia and Diana have since said that it was the most Canadian/English reaction ever. The answer is yes, of course, call 911, report the accident to the police.
A retired Officer was driving by and pulled over, called the accident in and helped us. Stayed with us and drove us home as he was going into the city. The incredible kindness of strangers just staggering.
We opted not to retry our road trip when the weather got better but to just have a staycation instead. Since the accident some stunning bruises have appeared and we’re pretty sore, but I think that’s the extent of it and it’ll just take a little bit of time to totally feel better.
We always have music going the whole time when we’re driving, usually mixes, but this time had thrown the radio on. We lost the signal shortly before we crashed. A little thing, but as music nerds we’re thankful not to have a soundtrack for this event.
And the other weird thoughts that passed through my mind before we even left…all the snow had melted and was gone, but I thought I should still wear a winter coat “in case”, and even changed out of a fancy dress into more practical yoga pants and a Part Wolf graphic tee and hoodie. Sure you could argue that it was just sensible given we were about to hop in the car for several hours, but I’ve never been the best at being a practical dresser.
I keep thinking about how it could have gone…and about my friend Sarah who died three years ago in a crash in San Francsico. I feel guilty that somehow I’m still here, and she isn’t. Which I know she would smack the shit out of me for even thinking that, so I’m trying my best not to let those thoughts creep in.
Since the accident, I’ve been reading a bit about time perception, slow motion time distortion, and tachypsychia. I’ve experienced time slowing down once before when I was 4 and almost drowned. I always just assumed that was part of the sensation of near drowning until this car accident. As cliche as it might sound, everything did slow down and was hyper vivid. It’s pretty fascinating stuff –
When a person is scared, a brain area called the amygdala becomes more active, laying down an extra set of memories that go along with those normally taken care of by other parts of the brain.
“In this way, frightening events are associated with richer and denser memories,” Eagleman explained. “And the more memory you have of an event, the longer you believe it took.”
Eagleman added this illusion “is related to the phenomenon that time seems to speed up as you grow older. When you’re a child, you lay down rich memories for all your experiences; when you’re older, you’ve seen it all before and lay down fewer memories. Therefore, when a child looks back at the end of a summer, it seems to have lasted forever; adults think it zoomed by.”
The past few days have felt like a weird, divergent time line.
I’ve been waiting for Tuesday to hit, because in this “alternate reality” of us not crashing, this is when we would be getting back home.
What a crazy ride. I’m just so damn glad we came out of it ok. Now to rejoin my proper timeline xx