The Sunny Side Up
Southerners joke that our roads are hot enough to fry an egg. I had always seen the saying as more of a figure of speech than a quantitative chemical measurement. However, as I lied stretched out on the hot asphalt in early June, I felt the searing truth of that old southern expression. It had hit home; I was the frying egg.
Seconds after attempting to cross the street on the Shabbat of June 9, 2012, I was hit by a pickup truck trying to make a yellow light. I remember turning my head and seeing the headlights approaching. What followed was the purest and most immediate feeling of fear.
People always ask me what it felt like to get hit by a car. I usually respond with something along the lines of, “not great”. But, in reality, the thing that stands out to me the most about that morning is the feeling of the hot cement on my back. Everything else in that moment felt too surreal to conceptualize, including the impact of the pickup truck against my hip. The only tangible sensation I felt was the bumpy gravel and the heat rising up from underneath me.
It is difficult to describe the ways my life changed after that. I spent four weeks in the hospital followed by months of physical therapy. I have scars from the surgery and the accident. I have permanent nerve damage on my left knee. I have a bump on the side of my leg that will be forever indented from the impact of the car’s bumper. But, more than anything, I was left with the recollection of the scorching earth.
I have always found crime shows entertaining. Not just because of the acting, but because you can always guess the ending. I would watch Law and Order and remark at how stupid the characters had been. I would think about how I would have done it differently--not have become a victim, solved the case faster, or committed the perfect crime.
Up until this event took place, I felt that I had complete control over my life. Granted I was only fourteen, but I viewed myself as immortal. I was reckless and dangerous and I loved to test the limits of anything conventional. In fact, the morning of June 9th, I had opted to jaywalk instead of using the designated crosswalk as I insisted that walking the extra ten feet was a waste of my time.
Few decisions in life are met with immediate repercussions. However, my teenage negligence had run its course, and its consequences were realized. More palpable than the pain of the injury I had suffered was the pain of the helplessness I felt. I was the egg.
The heat of the ground roused me into a new realm of consciousness. One in which I saw the value and fragility of my life and my actions. True, I had been flipped and fried, but the lesson I learnt was worth the scar it left -- sometimes the best way to prove mortality is to face it ‘hip-on.’