My mom wonders how I am still alive after all these years. With all of the things I have been through, it is kind of a wonder.
When I was little, I almost drowned at least twice. One time, I fell in to the pond in our back yard. I thought my dog went in and rescued me, but mom told me he was afraid of water, so I don’t quite remember how I got out of there. When I was even younger, I fell into a pool in the back yard of some of my parent’s friends. The oldest of the kids there (who was barely older than me) could not get the drunken parents to pay attention to me, so he went in and rescued me. (Turns out there IS a reason that I don’t like water that I can’t see the bottom of – it was a black bottom pool).
Right before I started first grade, there was a big hole by my house. It was close to ravine size to a kid of my age and size. They were building a park, and did not have this fenced off. It had been raining, in classic California style, rained for a couple of days and pretty much filled this giant gaping hole. A friend and I were playing near there (this was a halfway point between our houses – she lived across the street, and I was a house away). I fell in. I did not know how to swim (I certainly learned soon!!!) – and just went down. It was probably about 4 feet deep, but I was pretty little – around 5. I was fished out by my soon to be crossing guard (she was the nicest lady) and taken home. I told my mom that I “whimmed like a fish,” as I was shivering and my teeth were chattering. My mom put me in the bathtub, to get the stench off of me, warm me up and wash the filthy water out of my braids.
My mom told me of a story, I can’t remember the exact details – but she ran out of gas or the car stalled (it was an old VW bug), and she forgot the parking brake. The car started going down a hill, with me still in it (I was just a baby). By the time she got to the car, I was screaming. In happiness. I wanted to do it again.
Until I was in probably 6th grade, my mom worked the evening shift at work. 4-midnight. Dad worked in the morning. So, at night, dad was in charge. At that point, there were a lot of parties that dad took me to. I think partly because it gave him so much attention with the ladies, and partly so he wouldn’t have to get a babysitter. Well, I can’t tell you how many times he drove me home drunk. I remember going on a freeway onramp and being only on two wheels. Running over things, crashing into them. Luckily, I wasn’t with him when he finally crashed into the light pole in our neighborhood and totaled his car. Somehow, he ended up driving the car into the garage, and going to bed. He did finally get caught and got thrown in jail for a night with a DUI. So, at least he stopped drunk driving. Stoned driving is a completely different story.
Not a lot happened in the following years that I remember. Until I was in my 20’s. I wasn’t in any car accidents that could have been really fatal. I was never on any rides at Disneyland that I would have been thrown from. I was never in a plane that almost went down. I didn’t have any major illnesses. Once I was in my 20’s, though… I had a couple of accidents and a couple major illnesses…
My accidents – the first one was in the Renault Encore – my second car. I was driving to work at Target, and I pulled in to the parking lot – well the employee parking was on the right side, so I always went in with the right lane. Well, today, a guy in a big truck (one of those big ones from the 70’s) with a camper shell on it decided to make a right turn from the left lane – without signaling. Right into the drivers side door. He tried to blame me and say that I was going too fast. I went in the building (after crawling out of my car from the passenger door), told the manager what happened – the manager sent out the cart attendants to go get the guy’s license plate numbers, etc. and they proceeded to protect me the rest of the day. Turned out the guy didn’t have insurance, so he wanted to settle it out of court. I was refused repair because the car was considered totaled.
Ok, the second one was in my ’74 Bug. I was having a particularly bad night at work at Disneyland, and happened to make the comment to a co-worker that I would probably get in a car accident on the way home that night (I learned my lesson that night). It had been raining. And if anyone knows the brake life on the old bugs, they know that even in the best of situations, you cannot slam on brakes in those cars. Well, when I was driving home from work, a semi (at the time, it was a Lucky Grocery store truck) decided to make a lane change 1. in the middle of an intersection, 2. Without signaling and 3. Without looking. To avoid hitting him and becoming a smooshed Pepsi can, I swerved into the next lane. I hit the small Mazda truck next to me. Filled with a Hispanic family. Since it was late at night, I did not know it was a family. I was in a prime gang area. And that was exactly what I thought was pouring out of the truck. Until the grandma got out. I started bawling. She put her arms around me and told the man (her son, I assume), that I was scared and to take it easy on me (yes, en español).
I narrowly avoided several accidents. On the freeways of southern California, I would be nearby when cars would hit the center divider and cement pieces (large ones) would spray everywhere, but none would even come near my car. I had some minor things happen, hitting poles that were too low to see out of my rear view mirror, backing into curbs that were too high. That kind of thing. It wasn’t until I had my Saturn that I had the really bad accidents. I had not even had the car for a year when a kid that had probably just gotten his license pulled out in front of me. I was driving south on Beach Blvd. In Huntington Beach – also known as highway 39. The speed limit was 50. Which is what I was going. He made a left turn out of the McDonalds that clearly said (I think there are at least 4 signs) No Left Turn or Right Turn Only. I luckily had 3 witnesses. I slammed into that boy. He wanted to settle out of insurance. He was afraid that his insurance would get canceled. He took too long to get back to me. As soon as my car was done getting fixed, we had to move.
I wasn’t in another accident until the rear-end by the semi a couple of years ago. If he had been going any faster, I may have been killed. Not to mention Tyler and Mario. ‘Course, Mario was the only one of us that didn’t have a seat belt on, so who knows….
Then there are the weird ones… I had a knife pulled on me in Garden Grove, CA when I was driving home from Work in Disneyland. I saw this new truck that looked really cool. It was bright yellow, which I had really liked. I was taking a look at it when I was stopped at a light. The girl driving obviously took offense to this, and climbed out of the truck and came toward my car with a knife flashing in her hand. She came to my window and asked if I had a problem. I told her that I really liked her truck. As she came closer to me, the light turned and I took off.
We were on the 10 fwy in the Pomona area when we accidentally cut some guy off (ok, it wasn’t accidentally, but I needed to get off on that exit and the guy wouldn’t let me over). Well, my dad thought it was funny, and smiled and waved at him. The guy pulled out a gun and started waving it at us. Luckily, we made it off the off ramp before he started shooting.
I was somewhat physically abused by a roommate that I had in 1993. I didn’t realize it at the time, but he was a tweaker. He smacked me around. He chased me around with a giant knife. He slashed my things when he couldn’t get into my room. The final straw was when he smashed a beer bottle over my head. I didn’t find out until years later that he was on speed.
Probably the last one I have to mention that is probably the most surprising that didn’t take my life and probably should have – you guys all know it – Cancer. And all the things that went along with it… The chemo almost killed me – especially the wrong one. The staph infection should have killed me. Instead it gave me a Myocardial Infarction (heart attack) that should have killed me. The stem cell transplant and all the procedures that went along with it could have killed me. But somehow, and with a positive attitude, I did not die.
Never thought I would make it to my 25th birthday, much less my 35th. I didn’t mention all the depression; all the times I have attempted suicide. Those are just SOME things why I thought I wouldn’t make it to my 25th. My mom thinks that there is a reason I am here – I have some sort of purpose to fulfill before I am allowed to die. Maybe this is true. Maybe I just have to find fulfillment in my life and be happy with who I am and who I can be before I am allowed to die. Maybe I have to produce offspring. Maybe I have to make a fortune. Maybe I just have to make someone else happy and fulfill a promise that I made in a former life. I don’t know.
All I know is that I am another year older, and even though I probably SHOULD be dead at this point – I’m not. I lived to tell the tale, and I am happy so far. Hmmmm… weird…