This Is How You Know You’re Alive

I sat down to write this post 7 days ago, but I couldn’t bring myself to do it. My first wedding sans alcohol was a sobering experience, and not just in the literal sense.

Celebrating without alcohol, even at a wedding, was wonderful. I need to start trusting that whole concept! I was anxious about seating assignments and who would be at my table and all of that, but I would have been anyway. There was plenty to eat, drink and do! Not to mention, there were no seat assignments. I felt comfortable meeting new people and carrying on conversations, and it was truly wonderful to recollect the evening without that booze-filled haze. The most staggering realization was that somehow I was MORE inclined to dance. WHAT?! I’m not sure where that came from, but I embraced it.

The evening ended around 10:30 PM and my friend and I headed to her car. It was a country wedding, out on the back roads and the night was pitch black. I don’t drive very frequently in the city, but I was comfortable. I had lived in this town for 2 years and spent my entire young adult life driving across the state.

The car ambled down the dirt road, made a left turn onto pavement and ended at a stop sign. I turned on the left blinker, waiting in the darkness to turn onto the deserted, two-lane frontage road. The frontage road ran parallel to the bustling freeway and I watched the cars speed past. I looked left. I looked right. I looked left again and I eased onto the frontage road.

Everything happened in slow motion.

I hadn’t seen the car approaching from my right. There was no blaring horn, no screech of tires or crunch of metal. There was silence and darkness. Absolute darkness but for the flash of the car, barreling toward us at 60 mph, as I pulled onto the road.

I will never understand how we didn’t collide.

I let my foot off the accelerator and eased the car into the oncoming traffic lane. Thankfully, there was no oncoming traffic. The other car soundlessly plowed past and I maneuvered my car into the correct lane. All in a split second.

My friend and I exchanged glances in the silent vehicle, listening to the hum of the tires on the pavement.

“We almost died.”

I don’t know if she uttered those words, or if I did, but we both felt the magnitude of the situation. I could not shake the feeling. We almost died. We were almost in an absolutely horrific car accident. It would have been my fault. I am 100% sober. But we still almost got into a car wreck.

After what felt like years, we made it back to her place. It was the first time in a long time that I thought, “I need a drink.” I felt hollow. I felt thankful. I also knew that I didn’t really want a drink, I just wanted something to take the place of the feelings. Instead, we sat out on the porch and looked at our photos. I intermittently apologized, feeling horribly responsible for what could have been. My friend assured me that it was fine. Nothing happened. We were okay.

I don’t know how to end this other than to say that I am grateful to be here. I am grateful to be well and sober.

I am on Day 126 and I am alive.

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