Whenever I drove, I always felt like Polaris was an extension of myself – I always knew what was happening, felt every bump, every inch of gain, the turns and the swerves. It’s an amazing, liberating feeling. I was in total control. But a year ago, what was supposed to be a simple drive to Minneapolis turned out to be a lot more eventful. At roughly 11.30PM, I drove my car over a small patch of black ice on the road. And like a rug being swept away from under, I felt the loss of control as Polaris swerved. I tried to keep her straight, but I had nothing. I skidded off the highway and onto the snow packed ditch.
I felt the car spin tail end, once, twice — thrice? It was hard to tell. It was literally a world of blur. I held on tight to something. Polaris flipped on her front in the ditch. Momentarily feelings of nothing. Then dread, panic, and fear. I reoriented myself. I was upside down. There was a noise. My car’s horn was going off. My knees or some part of me was pressed against it. There was a beeping noise – I wasn’t sure what it was trying to indicate. Is there a “car rolled over” indicator? Probably not I unbuckled myself and landed my head on the roof. I reoriented myself. The fear was there. My hand was bleeding. My head hurt a little bit. I swore more times than I could count and thought what a waste it was getting a massage earlier. I tried to open the door, but it wouldn’t budge. I tried to open the other door.
Not that one either. I kicked and pushed and pushed again. They were stuck against the ditch. The music was still playing, the cables, still connected. I followed the cable to find the phone. The screen was wet from the snow, but it was working. It was getting cold, and colder every second. I could feel it seeping into my bones, without the protection of the – ah, the windshield had shattered obviously and pushed in the snow. The rear windows might have been broken in too. I tried to reach towards the back. I tried to kick open the door, again, but there was no give. I held down the horn hoping someone would hear. I yelled for help, and the cold slowly made my hands numb. I had to relax. I told myself what I could do. I called 911. A friendly voice picked up. She asked me what the emergency was. I described what had happened, and I realized I was calmer than I thought. I gave her an approximate mile marker of where I was.
She said help will be on the way. We waited on the line together, and she asked if I was doing okay. I was. Someone yelled from outside, and he asked if I was okay too. I started to feel relief, the panic dissipated while the cold persisted, but it was only an annoyance. I thanked the stranger and told him that it was okay, help was on the way. I waited until the fire department came. They broke the window and pulled me out. An ambulance took me to the nearest hospital. Will picked me up two hours later and drove me to the city. I slept while he drove, we talked and he drove. I felt panic at every bump, and every turn. We stopped at a gas station, and I got him coffee. We talked about anything and everything, and nothing. He drove, and I slept, and I woke up at the slightest turbulence.
It might have been 3AM or later when we finally reached home. We both crashed – the good kind. Will left in the morning, and I was by myself. A strange feeling settled on me. I felt severed and disconnected. A few days later, I went to the junkyard to collect my things from the car and sign over the registration. It was totaled, too expensive to repair. I grabbed everything I could, but a lot of things that was dear to me was lost. Buried under two feet of snow, flown out the broken window when it was being towed. I don’t know. It was cold enough to freeze my fingers, and I didn’t know if I had it in me to dig through the white shit. I started to walk away from Polaris. A man waved and asked curiously, “Did the guy make it?” I was confused for a second before I realized what he meant.
I just laughed and said, “Yeah. It was me.” He looked speechless. He came to up to me and took his glove off, “Let me shake your hand, man. I can’t believe you walked away from that. Not even a scratch?” “Just a little cut on my hand,” I said, and showed him the scab marks. We parted ways wishing each other good luck. I knew it before, but I realized again that I was lucky to be alive. A few inches to the left and the roof would have caved in on my skull.
And if I wasn’t wearing my seatbelt, I would have been like a rock in a tin can, a pile of broken bones. Tomayto, tomahto, right? Polaris was my first car. She wasn’t a new car. She wasn’t a fancy car. But she was beautiful. She had character. She was fast enough. She took me to the mountains and the oceans and back home. She gave us adventures and road trips that I will remember forever. What do you take away from this? Plan to get a massage the day after being in a car crash, and always wear your seatbelts. It takes less than a second to have your life changed.
Submitted by Shahriar Shamim Emil on 01/02/2020