2018 began with a bang. And I mean a literal bang. An unforgettable crunching of metal and shattering glass against my body.
And then total silence.
I came to several minutes later in a crosswalk with a crowd of unfamiliar faces looking down - asking what I could remember (which wasn’t much), and a splitting headache. My body felt, well, like it just got hit by a car.
Over the last few months, I’ve woven together a narrative of what happened from a few of my own hazy memories of that evening, as well as threads collected from witnesses and police reports.
Here are the facts: I was on my run commute home after a day of work. I was supposed to have the right of way. But then - more than halfway across the street- I sensed a car coming at me. I jumped backward, but the driver swerved in the same direction, and the car struck me in the lower left leg first - vaulting me up onto the hood and windshield. I was carried about 10 to 15 feet further until the car came to a stop and deposited me back onto the roadway.
Refuting the gruff, unkind stereotype of New Yorkers, a group of strangers rushed over to help. They called the police, and covered me in a pile of their own scarves and gloves so I would be warm until the ambulance arrived. They told me jokes to keep me awake, and squeezed my hand when all I could do was beg and plead for answers. For my parents. For the pain to go away.
I still have a pair of unclaimed gloves from that night.
In popular culture, getting hit by a car is a comedic trope. It symbolizes a deserved retribution. An unexpected hurdle and barrier. It is to suffer extremely bad luck.
Something happened in a single moment - something strange and rare, something unbelievable —and after that moment, everything changed.
Among the cards and well-wishing messages from colleagues and friends was one I’ll never forget from my dear friend, James. He had been hit by a speeding taxi 3 years earlier during his bike commute. “I don’t meant to alarm you,” James wrote, “but your life will probably never be quite the same.”
And James is right. Even a full year after recovery, getting hit by a car changed the way I experience this city. This world.
Getting hit by a car was traumatic. It was a complete and total disruption of my understanding of the world as a basically safe and livable space. Every time I see a black SUV coming down the street, my thoughts rebound to my accident. I never step off a curb until the light actually changes and I had the chance to look both ways a minimum of 10 times. Even then, I am never again sure that a vehicle that should stop will stop. All carefree pedestrian wanderings ended abruptly.
Following the accident, I had this perpetual sense of doom. I felt as though I had little control over my fate - as if a car (metaphorical or real) would come plowing through at any moment and wreck havoc again, and I had no way of stopping it. Of course, I soon learned this just wasn’t true. I am not a ticking time bomb. But I needed to take a few months to calm down my mind and understand what everything meant.
The accident and recovery process this last year have been incredibly humbling. At the end of the day, I am one of the lucky ones. I know that. I lived. I enjoyed the support of family, friends, colleagues and countless doctors. I had good health insurance. I left the ER with minimal physical injuries.
The experience brought me a newfound appreciation for life and respect for my body. My body - while temporarily battered by the crash - continues to support and hold me up everyday. I can still run, dance, jump, sing and hug among many, many other activities. I’m no longer preoccupied by “problem areas” like I used to be.
I have come to see my body as a wonderful gift - it is uniquely mine. It has taught me things nothing else could. It is resilient and it is beautiful. My body and I are now an army, and my scars an exquisite reminder of my strength and that miracles happen.
I’m just so, so happy to be here. Cheers to bad luck and all the good fortune that it brings!