Everyone is fine. No need to worry.
But Tuesday was a doozy. Worst days of my life territory.
When we moved here two months ago and I started driving, I knew that it was nearly inevitable that at some point I would be in a car accident here. Talking to other people who live here confirmed this fear, as most of them have in fact been in at least one. (The week we got here, we saw the immediate aftermath of an auto-pedestrian accident, a body on the road, which is an image I hope to one day forget.) Driving is just different here — it’s a big busy city, people are aggressive and less respectful of traffic rules, parking is often dicey (especially in a mini-van, which is a big car here). So, maybe more often than we’re used to, accidents happen.
I’ve debated how much of the detail of my accident to share, but the gist is, I had a neighbor/friend and her son and my five kids in the car, and the accident was my fault. Not because I was being reckless or anything, just on an unfamiliar street and had a moment of confusion, which caused another car to hit me. The other car rolled and landed on its roof, which was horrible, because we were so concerned about its occupants, but it turned out there was only one person inside, and she was not injured.
Dealing with the police and the insurance company was totally beyond my capability (my Spanish is about thus right now: “Yo soy ________ (fill in the blank with a relevant word). Y tu?”), which is a little frightening, and completely dis-empowering. However, I was so grateful for the neighbor who was with me in the car, and also her husband who arrived quickly to help. They are Costa Rican (p.s. he looks a little like a Latin soap opera star — so handsome) and both speak fluent English and Spanish. Because Matt was out of the country that day, they dropped everything and spent the rest of the afternoon helping with kids and details. I wasn’t home for hours (I even had to go to the hospital for a blood-alcohol test). How will I ever repay their kindness?
The accident plays over and over again in my mind. Imagine how much worse the replay would be if there were injuries — I feel like I have a tiny understanding of what PTSD must be like. I keep asking “what if” questions, since the outcome could have been so much worse. And I haven’t wanted to drive, so we’ve just stayed home and relaxed (I mean if you call taking care of five kids relaxing).
Anyway. Would you do me a favor and slow down a little? This accident was much scarier because the other driver was going way too fast. Accidents happen in a split second — a mistake, a wrong move, a misunderstanding — and when you are going too fast, you don’t have time to react.
I hope in a few days I’ll feel less skittish and anxious and more like myself. Living in a foreign country means you have to be brave, and I don’t feel very brave right now. But I do feel incredibly lucky and grateful.