This feather was waiting for me when I arrived home today.
I decided to take one of the back roads home.
I drove around a bend and saw a truck with its emergency lights flashing so I slowed down and as I was coming to a stop I saw what was in front of this truck: a huge white pickup truck turned upside down laying across both lanes.
There was a man in the street on his phone. In my head I heard: get out of the car, walk up to that man, ask what he needs. Marching orders. So I marched.
He was calling 911 but he didn't know what street we were on and in my panic I couldn't remember. I've been on that road a million times. As he talked I grabbed my phone for Google maps.
In my head the conversation went a bit like this:
Breathe. Focus. Google maps. Swipe to next screen. Breathe. Swipe to next screen. Breathe. Google. Okay. Where the fuck are we? Breathe.
And coming out of my mouth was our exact location even though I was still trying to locate Google maps. It was strange.
I felt like all of my senses were operating on their own while some other part of me panicked in a corner away from what mattered.
I smelled fresh air, no fuel. I felt the heat of the sun, no fire. I saw that the top of the truck was flattened against the road. I saw smashed glass and something red leaking from the middle of the engine area, not blood. There was a socket wrench and a yellow cloth. My eyes darted back and forth trying to land on the thought going through my head: there is no way anyone in there is alive.
And then in my head again:
Please, God. Breathe. Please, God. Breathe. Please, God.
And then through that tiny five-inch opening a very large, worn, gray Croc shoe moving back and forth.
We both yelled inside, "You okay?"
And a few seconds later a guy no shorter than 6 feet tall climbed from the other side of the truck. Bright blue eyes. A little scratch on his arm. Clearly shaken.
"I'm okay. I'm okay."
We met in the middle of the street. We urged him to sit down. He wouldn't. He paced the truck. He cursed Dodge. He told us the brakes locked and the truck turned and then flipped. Then he cursed Dodge again.
"Damn truck is on recall. I've called five times. No one's ever called me back."
He wanted to find his phone and call his son. He said, repeatedly, "I have no one else to call."
A medic arrived in what felt like seconds but was probably a few minutes, followed by a street full of police and firefighters.
Thank you, God. Thank you, God. Thank you, God.
Yesterday morning I stepped onto an elevator. There was a woman standing in the back, head down, looking at the floor. Two people in front of her. Me off to the side. Two people stepped on and stood in front of me.
The people behind me exited at floor two.
The woman who was behind them looked up when the doors closed and said, "Oh, God, when will we be there. I hate elevators. I HATE elevators. I CAN'T..."
And my brain said: panic attack behind you, place your hand on her shoulder now. Marching orders. So I marched.
"Look at me, look at me, look at my eyes, we're there. Doors are opening. You're fine. You made it. Breathe, honey. Let's go."
And I guided her off, sort of wondering why those two people in front of me sauntered off the elevator, but whatever.
As I sit here wondering whether I should continue to leave the house or just stay home my neighbor arrives wearing all white, driving a white truck and he hands me a white bag full of fresh veggies as he smiles and says,
"Here you go.
"Here you go."
Here, I go.