The Accident

May 2001 

I’d been out all day, first on a date with my new boyfriend Dave, then to a pickup softball game to see my brother John—where I noticed how much more he looked like a man than my kid brother—and then to a late-night coffee house with some friends. We’d spent the evening hours on their patio, taking in the mild pre-summer weather, talking and arguing and drinking too many Vietnamese iced coffees.

Just before 9:30 pm, I suddenly became dizzy and lightheaded. I couldn’t track the voices swirling around me. I put my head in my hands and closed my eyes, but when I opened them everything was worse. My vision was blurry. All the street lights had halos.

“I don’t feel so well,” I slurred. I stood up and grabbed my purse. “I’m gonna go home.”

“You okay hon?” someone asked.

“Bye,” I said.

“Whoa, whoa, hey,” I heard.

“I’m okay,” I said and I started walking, consciously telling my legs to carry me.

I don’t remember getting in my car. I don’t remember driving home some 12 miles. I don’t remember getting out of my car or going into my mom’s house—where I was living alone—and I don’t remember going to bed.


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Two stories featuring my mom


When I was about 13, my Siberian husky Lexie got away from me outside and ran off. I can’t remember if this was one of the times she slipped the choke chain, or the time she bent the pinch collar. It wasn’t the time she broke the sky run cable or the time I simply lost hold of her leash, because I remember standing, holding the slack leash in my hand as her white and rust-colored body blurred across the street.

I should’ve immediately enlisted the help of my mom and brother, but instead I chased after her. Lexie would let me get within 15 feet of her (“just sniffing this bush and looking at you out of the corner of my eye, doop de doop”) before taking off again. This scene repeated itself as I called to her with the myriad, full emotions of a thirteen year old. I tried to trick her into thinking I was also playing a game and she should totally come see. Didn’t work. I said her name sternly, and even angrily. Didn’t work. Finally, after running after her for so long, I got a side stitch. I burst into tears and pleaded with her. “Lexie, please! Please come!” Nothing.

Then she ran across yet another street and I lost sight of her. It was getting dark and I knew the highway was only another street away. I needed help. So, sobbing, I jogged back home. I saw my brother and mom in the yard picking up the leash and collar. I told Mom what happened and we all ran back to where I last saw Lexie.

The three of us reached the spot where I lost her, right where a pointless gravel lot met a meadow, and began calling her name. My brother whistled loudly. Finally, Lexie appeared from beyond the treeline. She came running right to us, but stopped before getting too close and then started to dart away again. The little shit was still playing. My brother and I hopped around, pretending to play to see if she’d run up to us, but Lexie was too smart for that nonsense.

Meanwhile, my mom started to crouch a little. I thought maybe she hurt her knee or back, or was pretending to be hurt to get Lexie to come over. Instead, the next time Lexie darted around us in a wide circle, my petite mom launched herself through the air and tackled a 60 pound Husky who was mid-dart. On a gravel road. It was the most bitchin’ thing my mom has ever done.


I guess she really knows me

When I was 24 or 25, mom’s car broke down one evening. I was off work so I went to pick her up. She broke down not far from my apartment. Though she knew the main roads of that area pretty well, she was not as familiar with the side roads and shortcuts. After I picked her up, I must’ve turned down one of those side streets.

“Where are we going?” she asked. I was taking her home; I just didn’t feel like sitting through stoplights.

“Don’t worry about it,” I said in my most ominous voice.

She immediately burst into laughter. We both ended up laughing so hard we cried, which is how a lot of jokes and stories end when I’m with her.