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When We Hit the Wall

I said it calmly, a simple statement of fact.

It had been a perfect whirlwind roadtrip to Chicago and back for thirty-six hours of Irish beer and skyscraper views and fresh tattoos with a few dear friends. We had driven all the way through the long Wisconsin night and were just a few minutes away from Minneapolis sunrise, singing Evanescence songs at the top of our lungs and reliving 2004.

Somewhere on I-94 between St Paul and Minneapolis the pavement turned to ice beneath our wheels. Later I would read in the news that three hundred drivers had spun out and wrecked in the Twin Cities’ early morning snowfall, but in that moment it was a solo performance as my friend’s SUV began swaying and pirouetting across the freeway.

I took my foot off the pedals and gripped the useless steeringwheel tight as we slid sideways then backwards then in big, lazy circles.

“We’re going to hit the wall now,” I said, and a moment later we did, finally coming to a stop with one wheel hanging limp and broken off the front end of the car.

Three hundred drivers spun out and crunched against walls and guardrails and schoolbusses and semi trucks today, a frozen flash mob symphony of crushed plastic and bent steel. And we walked away unharmed, called a towtruck, and then finished the last ten minutes of our overnight roadtrip in the backseat of an Uber.

You could say that we were blessed, that angels were watching over us, that we spun safely like a top in God’s own hand. I’d rather not; because had we been smashed to smithereens by a semi truck or worse yet stranded in the middle of Wisconsin in the middle of the night, I don’t for a minute doubt that God would have held us there too.

You could say we were lucky, but I’d rather not. Life is too full of magic and wonder to risk writing off a miracle as a coincidence.

So I won’t say we were blessed, and I won’t say we were lucky either. Maybe I’ll just say we are grateful, and that is enough.

published March 21, 2016

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