I’ve known that there are suicidal deer in the world. I’ve seen the bodies on the side of the road. I’ve had a few near misses. I’ve seen it happen to other cars. But until last night, I never knew what it was like to be in a car that hit a deer.
It all happened in slow motion, but at the same time it was so fast. I was getting a ride home with some friends, and was in the backseat, so I didn’t really have the best vantage to see what happened. We were on the freeway after one in the morning. I heard my friend in the passenger seat say, “oh shit; be careful,” to his girlfriend who was driving, and I looked up. There might have been more than one of them, but there was definitely a deer in the road ahead of us. She was sort of splitting the lanes. My friends slowed down and pulled to the right to go around her, and just when I thought we were in the clear, the damned deer turned and jumped right in front of the car.
There was nothing my friend could have done. We were going the limit on an empty road. She couldn’t have stopped completely. And there wasn’t any way she could have known that the deer would turn around like that.
The good news is that none of us in the car were hurt. The car was, though. Her front end was pretty well beat up, and the radiator was fucked. Luckily for us, our friends were quite a bit behind us with their tour bus headed home too, so once we got off the road, they were able to pick us up, and also to provide a few well timed hugs. I feel really bad for the cost and inconvenience it’s going to cost my friend to get her car fixed, but mostly I’m just really glad that we are all physically okay.
But here I sit twenty-four hours later, and I’m not sure I’m emotionally okay, yet. I’m still kind of feeling jittery, for lack of a better word. This afternoon I walked down to a friends shop, and we went to lunch. She pointed out that I was shaking, that I kept dropping my chopsticks, and that I was all kinds of agitated. After the accident, I started shivering all over, and my heart was racing. Even after getting home so late, I still couldn’t get to sleep right away. I thought that was probably to be expected. After lunch, I decided to hit the gym, to try to burn off the residual adrenalin. Four and a half miles later, physically exhausted, I feel better than I did at lunch, but I still don’t feel like I can breathe. I keep taking these deep breaths, but it doesn’t feel like enough. I have a wicked headache. And I just feel off.
The hangover of a life threatening moment, a split second when an animal made a wrong turn.