That time a couple of high schoolers almost ran me down

“Life changes in the instant. The ordinary instant.”

Joan Didion lived it, said it, meant it. Then she directed a play about it. Have you read The Year of Magical Thinking ? It is the book she wrote after in one ordinary moment her husband dropped dead. Dinnertime cocktail in hand. Right after visiting their terminally ill only child in the hospital.

“The ordinary instant.”

One afternoon I was walking around a narrow corner on Washington Street beside Foodie’s, my local grocery store to pick up a few things, feeling frustrated, angry at someone or something, lost in my thoughts. And then I was nearly taken down by two high school aged boys. Probably from the nearby Catholic High School. Running. One chasing the other. One had a basketball under his arm. It wasn’t an angry chase or a violent chase; these guys were clearly just having fun. “Jesus Christ!” I exclaimed, and they politely apologized and continued on their merry way. Thankfully they had not run into me or I would probably have been down with a concussion. That was one narrow corner and two really fast young men.

And now for the internal conversation that followed:

“I almost died. Thank god they didn’t take me down. I don’t have medical insurance this month. Yeah, that would have sucked. Those guys were nice. How wonderful to see young teenage boys being productive and athletic instead of just hanging out, doing drugs. Yeah. Nice muscular bodies by the way. Oh Ellen you’re 33 and they’re like 17. You are so old and gross. Yeah, I keep forgetting I’m not a teenager anymore. Cougar! No, ugh!  I’m really glad I almost got killed. That really turned my day around. I shouldn’t waste time being angry. In that blink of an eye I could’ve been roadkill.” ETC. ETC.

Life truly can change in the instant. If I drop dead one day (cocktail in hand) or get run down by a pair of teenagers I want that last thought to be a really happy one.


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