Thursday, May 3, 2012
Just last week, my aunt told me about the book The Gift of Fear and shared a story of a time when her instinctive fear warned her toward caution during a late-night kitchen run. She put on slippers and turned on lights (she ordinarily did neither) and when she walked into the kitchen, a spider--a huge wolf spider--was poised to attack just inches from her foot.
This reminded me of the car accident I had years ago in Columbus, Georgia. Something warned me not to turn on the green arrow. Three lanes of cross-traffic were stopped, but I couldn't see the fourth lane. Reason told me that no one would run a red light with three lanes of heavy traffic stopped beside them, so I pulled out but kept my eye on the empty lane. I saw the GMC Jimmy plowing straight for my car at top speed.
Time slowed for me, and I could see very clearly that there really was nowhere to go, nothing to do. I thought I was going to die, so I closed my eyes. Who wants to watch something like that?
Crash. Big crash.
I can still hear the noise of it.
When the noise stopped, I opened my eyes to see how hurt I was. The interior of my car was a light camel color and I was wearing light blue clothes that day and my first thought was, "Where's the blood?"
Then I thought, "YAY! No blood!"
I looked up to see a horribly cracked windshield, a crumped hood blocking my view, and dense black smoke billowing around it.
That JMC Jimmy killed my Acura Integra.
Turns out I was thrown against the driver's side door, hitting my head, shoulder, and arm pretty hard, though I have no memory of it. A nurse who happened to be in the car behind me climbed into the back seat of my car (not easy in a two-door Integra) and held my head steady until the paramedics arrived. The nurse and paramedics were so kind, though backboards are really, truly, horribly uncomfortable.
The police called my husband to tell them I'd been in an accident and he needed to come to the hospital ASAP. They would tell him nothing of my condition, so he, of course, freaked out until the ER staff brought him back to see me and my non-bloody self.
I thank God my injuries were all soft-tissue and bumps and bruises, though the shoulder pain took years to go away. Go away it eventually did, as did the unbelievable fear of turning left on green arrows. People would honk their horns to urge me through intersections when I couldn't see if every single lane of cross traffic was stoppped.
Flash forward to Tuesday of this week. I stopped at the end of our driveway to get the mail and tossed it into the front passenger seat. One of these jumped out at me:
Of course I freaked and tried to kill it with a magazine from the mail, but that sucker leaped into the passenger floorboards and crawled out of sight into the dashboard.
I was wearing sandals.
The horror. The horror. This is what happened to Kurtz in The Heart of Darkness. Spiders jumped out of the jungle on him, he went crazy and died.
Not really. But you know exactly what I mean, don't you?
All I could think of was my aunt's story about the wolf spider. I knew that my spider (a less dangerous jumping spider) would reappear.
When I least expected it.
Crawling up my bare naked leg.
Or biting my toe.
And I would wreck my car in panic.
Because really, these sorts of melodramatic things happen to me every single day.
Reappear she did, though thankfully not on my person. Yesterday, while driving alone on a two-lane country road, I caught movement on the dashboard, and there she was.
Interesting how, just a second before I noticed her, I had assessed the road situation: no one coming at me, no one behind me, no cars pulling out onto the road ahead of me, doing the speed limit. It was perfectly safe for me to react to her hairy presence on my dash.
I immediately grabbed a conveniently-located copy of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows from the passenger seat and whacked that spider. Fortunately, she was in a dip in the molded dash and she didn't get totally squished--just squished enough to die--so I can show photographic proof.
Feelings of power and deep, abiding satisfaction filled me when I realized I. Had. Won.
I am WOMAN, hear me roar! See me kick scary spider ass!!!!
Delusions of grandeur.
But after whacking that spider, I wonder if I need to read a book called The Gift of Fear. After all, I'm Spiderwoman and I've got instincts.
What has made you afraid recently? Have you ever seen fear...and instinctive response to it...as a gift?