A few years ago, I got a call from A after work as I was driving to yoga. “Hey, I’ve been in a car accident. Can you come rescue me?”
The accident was on the route I was headed, just five minutes ahead. Glass in the road, a police officer, diverted traffic. Nothing horrific–just bad news at a bad intersection. Thankfully, A was fine. It wasn’t until we drove over to the tow lot that I got a good look at the car and its gnarled-up front end. With our hands on our hips, we surveyed the scene, replaying the what-ifs. We reminisced about all the good memories with that car. We chuckled at the irony of being hit by a vehicle owned by the tow truck company. Even having seen the wreckage, I was certain that a trip to the body shop would fix things up.
Not so much. The insurance assessor deemed it to be totaled. But what about this and this and this? They’re all still good, right? A few days later, with a big check in hand, A was deciding whether to go with the latest model in black or blue. Everybody had already moved on . . .
* * *
A few weeks ago, I got a text from A as I was leaving the office. “When it rains, it pours. Just got into a car accident. Minor, but ugh.”
Traffic was crawling, and with all the stop and go, he dinged the back bumper of an SUV. From the outside, it just looked like a scuff, a bump, and a busted-up emblem on his front end. Not such a big deal. The other, bigger car was fine. While the damage behind the scenes on A’s car was more serious than visibly apparent, at least this time the car was reparable. But the headache and the expense of this tiny ding seemed to be so much more frustrating to him than the car that was totaled.
* * *
Totaled. Ex. Break-up. Split. There’s an abrasive finality to these words that I don’t like. When a relationship ends–even amicably as ours did–society resorts to the “game over” lexicon. But what about the relationships that are worth salvaging? We need new words to describe these transitions. Realignment. Adjustment. Tune-up.
Neither one of us is looking for a “good as new” or “better than before” fix as we move ahead separately. To do so would just diminish the journey we’ve been on–these past 14 years, as well as the journey of the last month and a half. So what if our “boyfriend/girlfriend” emblem has cracked under pressure and fallen to the ground? So what if the cause of incident sounds so trivial? It just is . . . so let it be.
So for now, we’re going to just drive around in this mightily imperfect and time-worn exterior with no plans to take ourselves in for repair. No damage here. Only character. Only stories. Only life experience. We may have a lot of miles on us, but we we’re still moving forward.
“Scars are souvenirs you never lose . . .”