Friday, June 09, 2006

beware the ninth of june

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Today is officially my unlucky day. Not that anything bad has happened so far today, except for my NYT not being on the doorstep this morning. But in the past, this has been a bad, bad day.

On June 9th, 1982, two days before my thirteenth birthday I rode my bike to school, instead of getting a ride from my neighbor, as I usually did. I was riding to school because I had permission to leave school at lunchtime and ride to my elementary school, where there was a retirement party for my third grade teacher. And yes, I was one of those students who, much beloved by teachers, if not by classmates, got invited to those sorts of things. I was running late. Later my mother said she felt the promptings of the Holy Ghost telling her to put my bike in the back of the station wagon and just drive me to school, but she ignored it. Funny thing, the Holy Ghost--he's a hindsight kind of helper, more of a guilt-bringer than a help-giver. When she heard the sounds of an ambulance a few streets away she had a feeling it was me. When the neighbor who would have driven me to school showed up at the front door holding my bloody retainers wrapped in kleenex, she knew.

It wasn't a devastatingly serious accident, but it was a messy one. I was crossing a big street at the light and a car turning left drove into me, pushing me several hundred feet. I remember thinking how heavy the car was, and also that this was my fault, because I had been right at that pushing off the ground into a full ride point, not walking my bike across the street, as I had been taught. My bottom lip and my knee got ripped open, and as I stood up, blood everywhere, all I could say was, "We don't have any money, I can't be hurt." The woman who hit me was a total mess and I remember trying to tell her that it probably wasn't too bad. When the paramedics got there I tried to refuse treatment, because I knew it would be too expensive. They assured me that insurance would pay for it, and so, when my mom came running around the corner a few minutes later, that's the first thing I told her, as I lay strapped to a wooden board, getting loaded into the ambulance. Of course we didn't have health insurance. I'm not sure how my mom paid for it.

I had to get stiches in my lip and I couldn't bend my left leg for several weeks. I still have one of those weird knee scars on it; it looks like a pale eye. I can't bear to have anyone touch it--it feels like the equivalent of hearing fingernails on a chalkboard. When I went back to school later that week, limping, lip all swollen and stitchy, a long scab running the entire length of my nose, and resumed my job as salad bar cashier, lots of kids asked me if it was true that I had been raped. I didn't even know what that meant.

On June 9, 1987, I was driving on the 405, on my way home from an audition in Anaheim (can't remember what the play was--maybe Bye Bye Birdie?). Just as I was approaching one of those big, curving freeway overpasses I thought to myself--"Wow. It's June 9th. Five years ago today I got hit by the car. Wouldn't it be weird if something happened today?" Just then the trunk of the car in front of me, which wasn't closed all the way because they were transporting a sofa, bounced open and a sofa cushion flew onto the road in front of me. In that quick, slow moment of the accident I knew that I couldn't swerve, because I'd go off the overpass, so I gritted my teeth and kept going forward. The sofa cushion wrapped around my back axle and made the car fishtail from one lane to the other, coming to a dead stop sideways in the lefthand lane, looking out over the traffic below.

The cars behind me came to a screeching stop, thankfully. I restarted the car and tried to back up. Nothing. I put it into drive and tried to move forward. Nothing. Someone got out of their car and started yelling at me to move my car. I said "I can't. It's stuck on a sofa cushion." The angry man insisted I wasn't trying hard enough, so I got out of the car and let him have at it. While he tried in vain to move the car, I looked underneath it. From the back axle hung shredded cotton and fabric. Someone told me the police were on the way; someone handed me a car phone and I called my mom and tried to explain where I was and that she needed to come and get me. It's harder than you'd think to describe where you are when you're on a random freeway overpass, and even harder to find that overpass when you're coming from the opposite direction.

Everything worked out okay. I wasn't hurt and the car was fine, once a mechanic had pulled out the cushion. But five years later, on June 9, 1992, I didn't leave the house.

7 Comments:

Blogger Hilaire said...

Oh god - those are awful stories...they put knots in my stomach. Poor you!

4:01 PM  
Blogger Writermama said...

Jeez Louise! Our family did not have health insurance on June 9, 1982, either. I was just about to leave home anyway for BYU. But are they ever lucky that their four kids left them relatively unscathed. I don't know how they would have paid for any medical care on my dad's yearly income, which put us below the poverty line. It sucks to grow up poor--at least it did for me.

10:50 PM  
Blogger Adriana Velez said...

Wow, glad you survived this year's 9th! Considering the last story it sort of seems like you were also... lucky! At freeway speeds that cushion could have been fatal. Maybe June 9th is just "flirt with death" day.

12:03 AM  
Anonymous Holly said...

I have two unlucky days of my own: March 25 (almost bled to death from intestinal hemorrhaging in 1978) and April 14 (fell through my neighbor's kitchen roof while a missionary in Taiwan in 1986). I always feel both lucky and proud during those years when I forget to mark the dates and they pass without tragedy or even an incident.

I hope June 9 was entirely uneventful for you this year.

10:52 AM  
Blogger Perverse Adult said...

I went legit b/c i wanted an adult blog. The plan is still to be immature and childish on livejournal, but I wanted a more professional-seeming place to repost more creative and intellectual writings.

...so no more anonymous comments.

10:18 AM  
Blogger Margo, darling said...

Yeah, PA! It looks good. I might comment anonymously over there, though, so that it doesn't link back here. Blog looks great and the title is above reproach.

5:25 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well, being an extreme pessimist, I above all cant ignore the stream of negative events that occurred on June 9th 1982. That was the day I was born.

1:40 PM  

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