Twenty years ago today I got up early after staying up very late. The plan was to take Lina and Flynn to a town about an hour’s drive away to see a history presentation. Five-month-old Spencer came too. We never made it. I fell asleep at the wheel, went off the road, bounced through a field, and hit a tree, totaling a friend’s car.
The ironic thing was I knew I was dangerously sleepy and had been telling the kids to help me find a safe place to pull over. I was so impaired, even before we left, that I had failed to refasten my seatbelt after stopping to see if our neighbors would be coming with us (no).
I broke my left arm and seriously injured my knees, back, and face. My gums tore loose from my cheeks and my whole mouth had to be stitched back together on the inside. My back and knees still bother me—a lot. Lina was sitting beside me with a shoulder belt on and had a little bit of bruising from the belt. Baby Spencer in his rear-facing car seat just had a big fright. Flynn, in the back seat, didn’t tighten his seatbelt enough, so his head hit the seat in front of him, resulting in a cut over his eye which had to be stitched up.
Every year on this date I remember that day, and how stupid I was. No experience in this world, no deadline, is worth risking your life for—or the lives of your children. For years afterwards I couldn’t sleep in a vehicle at all. Then my natural sleepiness began returning. So, I have always insisted on stopping to sleep if I am driving and I need to. This is why I am such a lame person to take a road trip with. I am so, so slow. I drive the speed limit, but I do sometimes have to stop and take a nap. However, and I feel I should emphasize this, I am still alive.
Today I had to do shopping for tomorrow’s Geography class meal. We will be making vegetarianized Russian food.