I watched the cars zoom by, trying to forget the cold in my bare hand.
As a part of an experiment, I was testing to see if I was more likely to be picked up if I removed my hat and gloves.
The answer: Yes
A bald guy in a van drove by, and made a forward motion with his eyes, looking behind me and then back at me.
Oh! Once again, a car had pulled up behind me without me noticing.
I grabbed my bag and ran back. My mind was negotiating with my eyes, insisting that this can’t be real.
The car that had stopped to pick up a young hitchhiker was by far the most expensive car I had ever seen.
The exterior was sharp and angular, a matte grey. The inside was all subtle and yet powerfully Red.
I got in.
We sat, listening to the purr of the engine as we flowed past the other cars.
No words were spoken.
Time was lost in the flow of the moment.
“Where are you going?”
His words brought me out of the trance.
“Then we’re going the wrong way.”
I leaned against the wind, walking down the highway ramp and deep in thoughts.
I had just been helped by a man who was further along the path than me. Yet on the same path.
He had recognized my determination and my search for perfection, as a mirrored by his own.
Once more, thumb up and out, this time glove on.
I watched the cars zoom by.
We sat in the tiny passageway, exhausted. Our muscles were fatigued from overuse. We were over a mile deep into the cave, hours away from the surface, hours away from food, and hours away from water. Had our curiousity finally gotten the best of us? For the first time ever, I was worried for my life. I couldn't imagine dying, but making it out of the cave seemed even less likely.
It started months ago. After exploring the small caves at Enchanted Rock, we were eager to tackle something a bit more challenging. A search on the internet led us quickly to Airman's Cave - perhaps the most well known cave in Austin. What we didn't know at the time was that it was also an advanced level cave. Few members of the caving community in Austin would attempt the cave. With an average ceiling of 18", Airman's cave was a full 2.5 miles long. But we didn't really know that either. In fact, we knew nothing of caves or caving.
To access the cave, we had to take a hike down a dry creekbed and search for it. After wandering around for a while we spotted a large opening on the hill. That was it.
I'm beginning to feel like somewhat of a car crash magnet. I've totaled three cars in three years, thankfully with no one seriously injured in any of the incidents. I was not at fault in the first two wrecks, but a couple days ago, I caused the third crash.
I was coming home with the kiddos from my grandma's house in Mt. Vernon. Traveling on Route 3 is quite the roller coaster ride. Lots of hills and twists. But I've traveled that road so often, it's become familiar. I was cresting a hill, and there were two cars waiting to turn left in front of me. I didn't notice that they were completely stopped until it was too late. I slammed on the brakes, and tried to slide into the large gravel driveway on the left (the one the two cars ahead of me were headed to), but the first car started turning as I was crossing the other lane and I hit the back left side of her car, most likely at about 50 mph.
My kids were taking their much needed nap in their car seats when we collided. They woke with wails and tears, not understanding what they had just been through. For about 10 seconds after the crash, my brain was kind of fuzzy and I tried to gather myself. Trying to take in the reality around me without becoming overwhelmed at the possibilities that may have been caused by it. Trying to decide what the next best step was. My arms were spotted with an orange dust from the air bag. I noticed the familiar tingle of a seat belt burn on the left side of my chest as I had the same feeling three years before in my first crash. I wiggled the key out of the ignition as I looked over the rest of my body with relief. I dug my phone out from under the rubble it had slid under at the foot of the passenger's seat, unclicked my seat belt, and rushed to check out my little ones.
I got the kids out of the car, hoping that being able to snuggle me would help calm them down. They didn't have any signs of injury except some red irritations where their harnesses had been. At this point, people from other cars were already out asking if they could help and if we were ok. We sat down on the bank in front of a farm house, the only house I could see. The rest of the scenery was fields and woods. I explained to Noah and Hope what had happened and asked them if they were hurting anywhere. Just as they were starting to calm down, a light breeze came through and Hope yelled, "I'm Coooold!", clambered onto my lap and sobbed into my neck. Noah was just staring at our broken car in front of us, trying to take it all in.