Friday, September 08, 2006

A Near-Death Experience

It's been a while since I've posted (8 days shy of three months, to be exact). I'm not quite ready to get back to where I was before, where I was posting exclusively about political things, and a couple of times a day. I don't think I'll ever want to go back to exactly that.

Instead, I'd like to have more of a mishmash of topics in here. Anecdotes, stories from my youth, political postings sometimes, religious postings others, etc. This one will be a story from my youth, and though my recall of it is likely a bit fuzzy, I'll tell it as I remember it, and maybe my dad can help me out with the details.

I spent the first eight and a half years of my life in southern California. My mom, dad and I lived in Orange County for a while, and then in various spots around the San Fernando Valley. One thing that my dad and I used to do every weekend was to go to the Sherman Oaks Park (this is one of those details I might be wrong on, Dad).

I don't remember exactly how old I was, but one day the two of us were on the Ventura Freeway, driving home from the park, when a car went to cut us off. My dad swerved to get out of the way, and that was when the car began to go out of control. We started fishtailing down the freeway, and despite my dad's efforts, the car kept going further and further out of control. The fishtails got wider and wider, and as I recall, I think we even spun completely around once or twice.

I was glued to my seat. There was a knot the size of my head lodged in my throat, which made it pretty difficult to even consider breathing or swallowing. My life didn't flash before my eyes, and I didn't have any grand revelations, but I do very clearly remember thinking that I was probably going to die.

Then, THUD!

All of a sudden we were slowing down, and we weren't spinning anymore. We pulled off to the side of the road, along with the car that we'd hit, to inspect the damage. Somehow, neither my dad nor I was hurt at all. The car that we'd hit was white, but I don't remember what make or model. There were two girls in it, and they weren't hurt either. Remarkably, when we looked at the damage on the cars, we found that their bumper had a dent in it, and our bumper had a crack in it. That was it.

I didn't know about all of the details that went on, while my dad talked with the driver of the other car. All I remember was that I didn't have any shoes on, and the girl who was the passenger in the other car gave me piggy back rides by the side of the road so that I didn't have to walk on the hot asphalt.

Anyway, there's probably some details there that are missing, and some that are inaccurate, but that's how that story's stuck in my head for the last 20 years, give or take. Maybe my dad'll come along and offer up some clarification in the comments.


UPDATE (9/14/06): Here's what my dad had to say in the comments, if you don't feel like clicking through:

Wow. I haven't thought about that for a long time. You got it essentially right as I remember it. I learned to drive on rear-wheel-drive cars and drove in snow in the winter for the first 8 years of my driving experience, and the main thing I remembered about driving in the snow and ice was that you steer in the direction of your skid. In other words, if your back end is skidding to the left, you steer to the left to regain control.

Well, I was driving a front-wheel-drive Honda Accord that day, and as my life flashed before my eyes, I remember trying to steer in the direction of the skid but it kept getting worse and worse as we fishtailed down the freeway at 60 mph, and I couldn't understand why (I later figured out that it doesn't work with front wheel drive). I know we eventually did a complete 360-degree turn, and the drivers all around us were trying to stay out of our way and beeping at me as if I was doing this on purpose.

When we finally stopped, I remember it more as a gentle bump rather than a THUD, but nonetheless, we were shaken but alive.