At the beginning of August, I was in a car wreck. It was a Friday and Journey’s “Don’t Stop Believing” was playing on the radio. I was in a good mood because my husband had called to say he was going golfing with a friend and asked if I could bring his clubs to the office. My husband rarely ever makes plans with other friends on a whim, so I was happy he was going to get outside and enjoy the beautiful day. I often feel guilty because I’m home during the day (I work nights) and get to take advantage of the outdoors all the time while he works and our daughter is in school.
Just as I was exiting off I-70 towards downtown on the I-25 interchange, it happened.
Red tail lights. Traffic coming to a complete stop. People slamming on their breaks. Me not being able to stop fast enough. A car in front of me I didn’t see there a moment before. Perhaps he changed lanes at the last minute. I’m not sure, I was singing and happy and that’s the last thing I remember before the impact.
There was smoke in the car. My face hit something and my head flung back. My arm was white hot and I looked over and it was covered in blood. The hood of my car was bent up in some unrecognizable shape. I waited to be hit from behind, but thank goodness that didn’t happen. I sat in the car not knowing what to do. I pulled down the vanity mirror to see if my nose was broken. We had just gotten new brakes, new tires, and I had gotten a car wash and vacuum. I was supposed to sub a barre class at a studio I teach at that evening. I was at a complete loss of what to do next.
My car, as it turns out, was a complete loss.
My husband and I are not a one car family. He works downtown and I’m a flight attendant. Our daughter goes to school and I teach exercise classes. I run yoga retreats all over the state and hike in the mountains in my spare time. My schedule is all over the place and though we live in walking distance of a Walmart and biking distance to some breweries and the Westminster light rail, life is easiest for us with two cars. We didn’t have gap insurance on our car and we had only paid on it for three years, so once it was totaled out, our insurance company made us turn in the rental car. Not having gap insurance means we owe on a car we don’t have anymore, which puts us in a position where we can’t buy another car until the previous wrecked one is paid off. So life after my car wreck has become interesting and frustrating all at one time. One thing I didn’t count on, however, is how having one car has brought our family closer.
We were busy.
Here’s how our afternoons went once upon a time. On the days when I would fly at night, my husband would take our daughter to school in the morning and pick her up after work. I would come home from flying and nap, then in the afternoon go to teach at 4:30pm. Sometimes I’d go straight back to the airport after teaching, which meant I wouldn’t get to see my family for a few days, even though I was technically “home.” If I didn’t have to fly after flying I’d be home around 6pm from teaching, we would eat dinner and then put my daughter to bed. Sometimes I’d be the one to take her to school the next day and my husband would leave for work, then I’d run errands before teaching again.
Since I’m a part-time flight attendant and have some flexibility in my schedule, I haven’t been flying as much now that we only have one car. Now if I do, my husband has to drop me off at the airport at night and in the morning I have to take the light rail, then the free mall ride downtown to pick up his car at the parking garage near his office. When I don’t fly, he rides his bike to the light rail and takes it downtown, but there are still days when I teach that I have to pick him up first… he drops me off at the yoga studio, I teach while he picks up our daughter, then he comes back and gets me. Sound confusing? It is. Every day we have to plan out our schedules and what make sense and who needs the car for what. To make matters worse, the only car we do have is a big diesel truck that requires a huge amount of space to park and has to be turned off in the Starbucks drive-through so they can hear you order.
What has become ideal, however, is the amount of time we now spend as a family. Not flying so much has allowed me to stay at home and take my daughter to school, get the laundry done, clean the house, walk the dog, write, go hiking, and everything in-between. My husband’s health has improved because he’s riding his bike to and from work and we spend less money in gas (plus one less car to be insured). Since he drops me off and picks me up from teaching and flying, there’s no guessing on his part where I am and when I’ll be home. Taking the light rail from the airport to downtown has allowed me to get some reading time in and manage my time on my Instagram account, which is an integral part of my small business. We grocery shop together, spend time working on the yard and spend less time apart as a family. My friends have been saints, offering to pick me up to adventure or borrow their car when they are out of town. People really come through with you in times of need and though it’s not perfect, I’m enjoying our time as a family and trying to find the silver lining in the wreckage.
We won’t always be a one car family.
In time, we’ll have the other paid off and be able to purchase something else. Then I’ll most likely be back to flying and teaching more, and our lives will go back to being busier. However, my car wreck taught me to slow down and enjoy the every day moments – and I won’t forget that. It has brought our family closer, and I’m thankful.
I consider myself fortunate to have no more than a scar on my arm, as my constant reminder of that day. I also feel fortunate that my daughter and dog weren’t in the car, and the person I hit was not hurt.
Sometimes we get in a rush and when we aren’t vigilant with our attention, accidents happen.
I can’t go back and undo what happened, but I consider it a waste if I didn’t learn anything from that day. Not having two cars isn’t the worst thing in the world and, if anything, we’ve realized it is possible to get by on less than you think you need and get closer to the ones you know you need.