A few weeks ago, I rear-ended someone on the freeway.
I was drowsy, dragging, having jumped in the car 10 minutes after waking, after performing the bare requirements to get the dog squared away and get myself on the road, en route to the grind.
The traffic was annoyingly--ingratiatingly--stop-and-go, and it took me a second too long to realize it was more stop than go. My commuter sneaker slipped slightly on the brake, and I knew I was in for it. My seat belt triggered, compressing my chest, forcing my cringing face forward as I crashed into the tail end of a Honda Odyssey.
Time elapsed as I stared down my red front hood, colliding, colliding, colliding into the white wall of a hinged van door. Protracted smashing, and then it was over.
Fucking fuck. A voice I didn't recognize from my own driver's seat.
I pulled over, foggily rummaging through my glove compartment, stunned, shamed, despondent. Resigned.
"Are you okay?" I asked the visibly irritated blonde women whose day, week, maybe month I'd just soured. I'm sorry, I wanted to say, I'm acquainted with ruined days. It was only a matter of time before I transgressed a perfect stranger.
We stood on the shoulder as the cars whizzed by. Clearly the bottleneck had resolved itself. We examined the damage, exchanged information, and coldly laid out next steps.
Is this what falling out of love feels like, I wonder? Operating in a haze, going through the motions of maintenance, and then the abrupt stun of impact and the paralyzing recognition of your culpability? The weight of anxiety as your reflexes kick in a moment too late. Surveying the wreckage with the only person in the world who knows just how egregious your offense.
Never mind the environment, never mind the stress. You didn't stop in time. At fault, the record will say. Would you like to document more details about the incident?
Maybe this is why we don't have insurance for our romantic lives. We could never afford the premiums.