08 October 2006


I can walk on my hands. It sounds like an odd thing to mention, but I think it's relevant. I'm generally ok with being upside-down. In my breakdancing youth, I even managed some headspins. Being able to say 'my breakdancing youth' dates me. It's so retro it's come back into style. At summer camp, when I was 12, I set some sort of headstand record. I think it was about 10 minutes. I don't know now whether that was hugely impressive or a bit mediocre, but it was a record nonetheless. That said, I don't know if the record was for the camp or just my age group; if it was for that summer or the entirety of the camp's history.

I found myself upside-down Friday. My shoulders felt strained, but not as much as when I walk on my hands. My seatbelt was cutting into them, taking my weight, suspending me so that my head didn't fall and smack against the roof of the car, or worse, go through the windshield. My phone and nano lay on the windshield beneath me. The car was upside-down and upright. I don't know how that worked. The radio was still nattering away. I turned the engine off. The radio stopped. I put my right hand on the roof and used my left to undo my seatbelt. I didn't fall. My legs worked out where to be. I opened the passenger door, as it looked closer to the ground. It didn't occur to me to be relieved that I was able to open it. An alarm went off, telling me my headlights were still on. I switched them off. I grabbed my phone and stumbled out. My hands weren't shaking yet. There were voices from up on the road, wondering if anyone was in the car. I shouted that I was ok. I was. I scratched my head on a branch getting out of the underbrush.

I sat in the front of a stranger's van, another stranger's blanket to keep me warm in case I went in to shock. My hands started shaking. Pete C, James and the police arrived, concerned. A doctor took my pulse. I told everyone I was ok. Because I was. Everyone told me how lucky I was. Because I was. Pete collected the things that had been in what once was the boot. The boot lost the argument with the tree, and my camera, laptop and rucksack were strewn along the slope of the ditch. He found my Red Sox hat. James phoned his mechanic and asked him to get the car out. We climbed into the written-off Land Rover and drove back to Naughton.

Pete and I went for a walk up to the back field on the hill to finish some fencing. James and Lara joined us and then we headed up to the garage in Gauldry to see the car. My lens broke in the crash, so I borrowed Pete's. I took some pictures, detached. It wasn't my car anymore, just twisted metal, rubber and plastic. The mechanic looked at me in disbelief when he found out I was the driver. He told me I was lucky. I was. He charged me too little for recovery. I left it for him to sell for scrap.

My macbook's chassis is warped: it's had some hiccups. My new lens and my built-in flash are broken. I lost a pen, and the battery cover for my camera. I don't have a car any more. Rain, mud, a bad corner and inexperience took it from me. I wasn't going that fast, but still I lost control. But I'm alive, and my friends took care of me.

I was very, very lucky.

But I don't know if I'm ok. Yet.

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