After dating Alex about a month, we had already told each other the dreaded L word. I was sleeping over at his place every day, and nights that I wasn’t at his house, we were texting each other all night because we couldn’t sleep without the other one. When I worked on base, he would walk to my work, pick up my car, fill it up and go grocery shopping to make sure I ate my veggies.
If there was a rare occasion that we both had a day off, we spent it in his dorm room watching movies and cuddling. I had been in love once before, but never like this. It was intoxicating. When we were together, I felt complete and at peace, when we were apart, I ached for him in a way I never knew a person could ache for someone.
Once a year I would fly home to Minnesota to visit my family, always on my mom’s dollar because I was poor. She would fly me home, I’d see the dentist and any other medical check ups I needed, mom would take me clothes shopping, my friends would throw a party and we’d either get drunk or just hang out, and so on. This trip, I remember a very distinct conversation with my mom about my relationship with Alex.
I told her that I was going to marry Alex. I just knew that I was going to marry him. Alex and I started joking about it after two weeks of dating, saying “if we get married.” When the one month mark hit, we were saying “When we get married” and neither of us corrected the other.
My mom told me that I needed to wait at least six months so I could get to know him. She said that I needed to be careful because he could be someone who is abusive, and to be fair, she made a lot of really good points. The points she made, honestly, are points I make to people when they mention marriage after knowing someone for a year.
But I was 20 years old, I thought I knew everything. I told her that we were going to get married probably in June, and while he hadn’t proposed yet, I knew he was thinking of doing it, he had told me as much.
My mom tried to talk me out of it and she said she wanted to meet him before I considered marrying him and that we should plan a trip to visit all of our families before getting married, but we lived in Alaska and he was newly enlisted, he was just as broke as I was. But as always, my mom knew best, and her advice was really solid advice. But I just didn’t want to listen.
I got my wisdom teeth taken out two days before I flew back to Minnesota, and the day after I was so high on pain meds that I didn’t remember my brother sitting with me on the couch singing Rocky Horror Picture Show. Nor do I remember my step dad talking to me, or anything. I do remember yelling at my mom that I wanted a hamburger smoothie and that I had to have Greek yogurt, to which she laughed and told me to shut the hell up.
The day I flew back to Alaska, Alex was going to meet me at the airport. He had my car, after all. When I landed in Fairbanks, I was still a little out of it from the meds, but I saw him at the baggage claim, standing there with a worried look on his face. When he saw me, he opened his arms and I ran to him, refusing to let go of him. There were a few people there cooing and awing, but we had only been apart a week, and to us, it felt like an eternity.
We got my suitcase and went back to his dorm. We fell asleep holding hands.
The next morning I had to go back to Fairbanks to find out when I was supposed to work at the deli, and I knew that I had to work that night at the bowling alley, but I was still kind of out of it. I had to take a Vicodin the night before and I don’t think it was completely out of my system. I was also jet lagged. That day, it was mid-January and it was -44 outside with drifting snow.
I was a fearless driver, never afraid of speeding and never afraid of anything happening to me because come on, nothing bad ever happens to me. I was naïve.
I fell asleep behind the wheel for an instant, going 65 on the highway with drifting snow. When I woke up, I saw I was going head first into a snow bank, I overturned, spun out of control, and my car flipped and landed in the ditch.
It all happened so fast that I didn’t even realize what was happening. The car was spinning then suddenly I was upside down, the roof of my car had caved in and was nearly touching my head, the engine turned off, stuff was everywhere, and I was staring at a St Christopher medal that was on my visor. I saw cars driving by, I saw the snow falling, and the seatbelt was causing me pain for restraining me in my chair.
I remembered I started screaming, but it seemed so far away. I didn’t feel like I was in my body because I was so scared. I remember seeing a woman a few feet away from my window, looking in to the window. I started to pound on the window, screaming for help and she ran away. I was trapped upside down, unable to move, my body paralyzed with fear. I found my phone somehow and dialed the last number I had called.
It was Alex.
He picked up on the second ring, a little bit of fun in his voice. “Did you butt dial me?” he said with a chuckle.
“OH MY GOD ALEX I JUST FLIPPED MY CAR AND I’M TRAPPED AND I’M SCARED AND I’M UPSIDE DOWN AND I JUST PAID OFF THIS CAR AND CUT THE INSURANCE LAST WEEK OH MY GOD I’M GOING TO DIE!”
Let me tell you, not the best way to go about this kind of situation. I could only scream. I remember him trying to calm me down and say it without screaming and I continued to be hysterical, screaming that I was probably going to die because it was -44 outside that day and I was in the ditch somewhere between North Pole and Fairbanks. Oh, and because I was trapped upside down. Can’t forget that bit. The blood was going to my head.
He said he was going to hang up and have the dispatcher call me. I cried that I didn’t want him to hang up and he did. A few minutes later a dispatcher called me and told me to stay calm. In the few minutes where I was waiting for my phone to ring, I pushed myself up into my seat and unclasped the seatbelt and slid to the roof of my car, laying on the ceiling, no longer upside down. The dispatcher asked me if I was okay, and I told her no because I had just paid off the car and cut the insurance. She asked me if I was physically injured and I told her no.
However, when you have that much adrenaline, you don’t feel anything. The fire department, an ambulance, and the state troopers arrived and they asked me if I could crawl to the back seat and climb out the back window.
I had so much shit in my car that I couldn’t leave the front seat. They asked me if I had a blanket to cover my face and I pulled it over and covered my face while they used a sledge hammer to break the window. The pulled the blanket away from me and placed it over the broken glass while I crawled out the window.
Since this day was a horrible day, my ass got stuck in the window. Since I was still hysterical from flipping my car and being totally fucking broke, I started screaming because my ass was trapped in that fucking car. I think the responders were trying not to laugh at my yelling, “OH MY GOD MY ASS IS STUCK! I’M GOING TO DIE!”
I got into the ambulance and they gave me a once over, making sure I still had feeling in my legs and arms, checking my blood pressure, which was 180 over 120. Apparently that’s really fucking high.
My eyes were fully dilated, I was shaking, I was cold, but I was alive. They told me if I hadn’t of worn my seatbelt, I’d be dead. If it had been summer and there was no snow to cushion the fall, the car would have compressed more and I would have died, if the glass had shattered in the right way, it would have blinded me. All the conditions were perfect for me to come out injury free for the most part.
As they were telling me this, I realized my hand feel really warm. I looked down and saw that it was covered in warm blood. Since my adrenaline was still ridiculously high, I screamed “OH MY GOD I’M BLEEDING TO DEATH!”
A small piece of glass was taken out of my hand and they put a band aid on it, cleaning the blood off. The cut didn’t even need stitches, but my blood pressure was so high that it was flying out of me.
They asked me if I wanted to go to the hospital, but I didn’t have health insurance so I couldn’t afford it. They called a tow truck and I waited in the troopers car. I got my phone and called Alex, telling him I was fine and I was broke and had no idea what to do. I called my mom and got her voicemail, telling her to call me when she promised to not get mad. I called my roommate to tell her that I got into an accident and I was okay. I called my managers at each job and told them that I couldn’t work that day because I had no transportation because I totaled my car.
When my mom called me, she said she wouldn’t get mad. She promised. And I told her I flipped and totaled my car. She asked me if I was hurt, I said no. Then she started to scream at the top of her lungs. I almost dropped the phone.
The tow truck driver yelled at me because the key was missing from the ignition, but I had no idea where it had fallen. I thought it was in the engine. To this day, I have no idea where that key went. They towed the car to the house I was staying at, and I did the one thing that I had wanted to do since the car started spinning out of control.
I really had to shit.
That whole, “Always wear clean underwear when you get into a car accident,” is no lie. My god, since the moment the car went upside down, it was painful to hold in. It was so fucking insane, I was so relieved to see a toilet. There is no greater happiness than seeing a toilet after you total your car.
My coworker at the bowling alley offered to pick me up and take me to the Air Force Base to see Alex, and I really needed to work. I went into work, letting Alex know I was on base, and told my manager that I wanted to work my shift after all.
She said I was fucking crazy. And she was right. I should not have worked.
Now one thing, when I flipped the car, I almost died. I saw my life flash before me, but not like seeing all these things that I had done. I saw all the things I didn’t do. All the things I wanted to do in my life. I saw Alex in a way I never saw him before. I saw myself growing old with him, I saw him not just as my boyfriend, but as my companion, my husband, my soul mate. When I was trapped upside down, all I thought through all of that, besides emptying my bowels, was, “If I get out of this alive, I have to tell Alex I love him.” Alex and I had talked marriage, but I didn’t realize just what that entailed, and after flipping my car and nearly dying, I realized exactly what that meant. I didn’t want to spend another day without Alex. I wanted to grow old with him. I wanted to wake up next to him every day, to fight with him, to buy a house together. I wanted all that mushy stuff. I was tired of moving every few months, I was tired of working two full time jobs just to make ends meet. I was tired of being so lonely. I was tired of being so damn strong. I wanted to be able to lean on someone, even if just for an instant. I wanted Alex to be with me for the rest of my life, and I realized at that moment exactly what that entailed.
As soon as he found out I was at work, he had the troll drive him to the bowling alley. When he saw me, he went from walking to full blown sprinting. I didn’t even see him enter the building, but my manager did, and she started giggling when she saw him run. He tackled me, squeezing me so tight I coucouldn’teathe. He touched my face, he felt to make sure I wasn’t hurt, he kissed me. He was almost in tears.
To say the least, I found out he felt the same way.
I was only able to work a few hours of my shift. When the adrenaline calmed down, I was so dizzy that I nearly passed out. I was trying not to cry. I was so incredibly exhausted that I didn’t know what was going to happen to me. My coworker said she’d cover the rest of my shift and my manager said it was okay for me to leave. I was going to walk to Alex’s dorm, which was about a quarter of a mile away, but my coworker called her husband and had him drive me the short distance. He offered to walk me to the door, but I said no and walked myself.
When I got to Alex’s dorm, he just sat and held me as I started to cry. I had no idea what was going to happen. I couldn’t afford a new car. I could barely afford my rent. Alex wasn’t allowed to live off base so we couldn’t get an apartment together unless we got married. I was afraid of what the coming months had in store for me.
The next day my body was so sore and stiff that I couldn’t even move. It hurt just to sit up. So I called into work and my manager had already given my shift away because she knew I’d be sore. Alex didn’t have a car, and since he’s an asshat in situations like this, he made me walk all over base to get anything I’d need for the next few days. That was the most painful day of my life.
A week later I was back to working both jobs, taking a taxi to work or having my friend pick me up to go to the base. My mom gave me a loan of cash to buy a ’97 Buick LeSabre, which I drove for two years. When I went back to work at Safeway, my manager told me that I was no longer dependable and that I needed to quit or she’d find a way to fire me.
But Alex came to the rescue…
Have you ever almost died? Have you ever been in a situation where you were given an ultimatum? Did your significant other ever save your life? Let me know in the comments!