July 16, 2002
Slow Leaks & Near-Misses

miles to go: 1,055.58 [don't ask]

The Mustang couldn't have missed me by more than an inch: two inches, at the very most. I actually felt the warm fart of auto exhaust on my ankles as the car blew through the intersection at 90 miles an hour, not unlike the way I imagine the inattentive bullfighter feels the breath of the passing Brahma  ...  just before it gores her to death.

"Jesus!" says the man standing on the sidewalk next to me. "You OK, lady?"

He seems more rattled by the near-miss than *I* am. In fact, I'll bet if he could have reached out and hauled me out of the crosswalk himself by the scruff of my neck, he would have. As it is, I nearly knocked him over jumping backwards onto the curb as the car barrelled past us.

I nod in embarrassment. I'm OK. My fault. Wasn't paying attention. 

I certainly know better than to step into a crosswalk -- even if the light says "Go ahead! Walk! We DARE you!" -- without checking in ALL pertinent directions first. There is always at least one trigger-happy asshole, chomping at the bit (and at the gas pedal) for that free right-hand turn ... pedestrians or no pedestrians. But it's been a long day, and an even longer commute, most of it spent riding various excruciatingly-slow forms of public transportation. At the moment I stepped into that crosswalk, I was thinking more about Happy Pants and leftover fried chicken, frankly, than I was about personal safety.

I've been this way a lot, the past few days.

If June was all about feeling like one big unpopped zit of premenstrual misery, then July so far has been a long, slow, involuntary leak. Leaking blood. Leaking toxins. Leaking tension. Leaking *homicidal rage molecules.*  (And -- apparently -- leaking IQ points, while I'm at it.) I'm not sure what's causing it. I've only been taking the new meds for two weeks -- I'm still not sure how I'm supposed to refer to them here: birth control pills? cycle regulators? sanity restorers? -- not nearly long enough for them to have made any difference. I suspect that this is simply the mellow aftermath of The Month From Hell ... a way of slowly letting go of all the bad hormonal juju that had managed to accumulate in June. The downside is that it has left me feeling unnaturally slow and sleepy and preoccupied, like I've been outside doing bong hits in my boyfriend's van all afternoon. (Except I don't have the munchies. Much. And I'm not seized with a sudden desire to listen to Robin Trower records.)

I hope that it's temporary. Stoned was never a *good look* for me.

My fellow pedestrians and I all stand on the corner of the intersection and watch as the Mustang races off down Central Avenue in a cloud of smoke and squealing tires. The young driver guns it a couple of times, just for show. See? it says. I'm a stoopid show-offy teenager without the sense God gave a chicken!

"Where is a cop when you need one?" mutters a woman standing outside the liquor store, smoking a cigarette. There is a murmur of consensus among the little knot of onlookers -- Teenagers. Who needs 'em? -- and then the light changes again, and the "Walk" sign begins to blink, and we all disperse and go our separate ways.

End of drama.

I make my way across the street with the caution of a blind Wallenda crossing Niagara Falls. I'm still not feeling particularly unnerved by the incident. Mildly pissed off, yes. Embarrassed, yes, a little. But I'm not upset. I'm not contemplating ways to track down the Mustang driver and have him publicly eviscerated. (Or worse: forcing him to drive a VOLVO to school from now on.)  I'm not even all that concerned about the part my own inattention may have played in the incident. In fact, it will be another four hours -- as I'm laying in bed trying to fall asleep -- before the enormity of what almost happened this afternoon hits me.

I could have been killed.

Literally. Another inch further into that crosswalk, and I could have been road butter. All of the vitamins and exercise and pap smears in the world aren't going to do me a bit of good if I don't look both ways before I cross the street, forcryingoutloud.

It takes me a little while to calm down enough to sleep, after this horrifying realization ... but eventually my heart rate ratchets itself back down to normal, the nausea passes, the worst of the shaking subsides. Another couple of weeks, I tell myself. Just keep taking the meds for another couple of weeks, and everything will be fine.

If I live that long.

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