If you don’t like it when I write about what happened to me, and I know some people don’t, then you can stop reading right here. How’s that for a plan?
So. Yesterday I had a doctor’s appointment, and instead of getting back to my apartment by taking another cab I can’t afford, I decided to walk to the nearest Metro stop. I’m leaving DC next month, and I’m trying to get over my fear of crossing the street, and I need the exercise. And it was a nice day and I just felt like seeing some of the city I haven’t gotten to see, after living here as a virtual shut-in for four years.
At one point I realized I was just a few blocks from 22nd and M, which was where I was struck down on Feb. 3, 2010. I’ve tried to go back to that intersection a couple of times before, but I couldn’t force myself to get close. It’s tough to explain to anyone who’s never been through something like this, but going back to the scene of the crime is… I just couldn’t do it.
But yesterday I figured, what the heck? It was probably the last time I’d get the chance to try. What was the worst that could happen? So I might vomit in the street from the panic, big deal.
Well, that didn’t happen. I did feel the fear creeping in as I got closer to the intersection, but I was able to keep a handle on it. I made it to the same corner where I waited that night for the light to change, almost four years ago. And I just stood there for a little while and got myself together. It helped that they’re doing some sort of construction on a building on that corner, and there’s one of those covered walkways. I felt a little safer with walls and barriers and a roof over my head.
I was able to collect myself long enough to take this picture:
Doesn’t look like much, does it? Just another intersection in just another city. But for years, it’s had this weird totemic power over me. It’s the place where the Bad Thing happened.
Note the faded lines on the crosswalk, and the Don’t Walk signal. I heeded both of those things the night I got hit, despite what that fraudulent jaywalking ticket said.
And I heeded them yesterday too. I crossed that damn street. Legally. With the Walk signal, and inside the crosswalk. Just like last time.
To my left, there was a cab with its blinker on, waiting to make a left turn across my path. But it waited. It obeyed the law. Because it wasn’t a State Department vehicle.
So I made it across, unscathed. I didn’t feel a surge of victory or anything, but I felt good. I was glad I could now say I’d done that. It might seem silly to you, but it means something to me.
Here’s the view from the other side of the street:
Off to the left, that’s where I skidded on the left side of my face after the State Dept. SUV hit me and shattered my knee and spun me around through the air. I did indeed land outside the crosswalk, through absolutely no fault of my own.
But it’s just a street. It’s just a place where something really awful happened to me once. It has no power over me. I’ve always known that, but now I feel it too.
That’s that, then. Thank you for reading a post about a timorous blogger who crossed a scary street. We now return you to our regularly scheduled political blathering.
P.S. Oh, and as for the inevitable questions about my lawsuit against the State Department: It’s ongoing. I’m prepared for it to take years and years and years, because that’s how the government — and particularly the State Dept. — operates. Mostly, I just try not to think about it. All I can do is wait. If something happens with it before I die of old age, I’ll let you know.