She came out of nowhere it seemed—but isn’t that how it always is?
One minute David and I were driving along talking about miso soup and the benefits of organic farming, or maybe pondering some philosophical question like, “Is it easier to change direction—or to simply forget where one has been?”
The next thing we knew we were upside down on the grass on the opposite side of the road.
A woman had run a stop sign with her beater Ford Galaxy and had plowed right into us. Her car hit our right rear wheel so hard that it pushed the car all the way to the curb on the opposite side of the road. The impact with the curb flipped the car upside down.
The Toyota Corolla wagon’s roof was pretty much crushed flat on the dashboard and steering wheel, leaving the only route of exit out through the popped out rear window. David, being a little claustrophobic, wanted no part of hanging out in the upside down car and neither did I. We made our way out of the car crawling between the seats and through the broken glass on the roof of the car. Ducking under the top of the back seat, I whacked my knee on the dome light. The smell of dripping gas, tire rubber and spilled coffee was in the air.
I hate it when there are so frigging many screws in the attic access cover!
All six screws were three inches long, with mangled slots from previous people dealing with the cover. Some appeared to have been “given up on” which only made me all the more determined. I placed my screw driver at an angle on the groove of one of the screws and then whacked the screw driver to knock the paint out of the groove to help the screw driver fit better. I turned the screws out just far enough to get my vise-grips on the heads and then turned the screws the rest of the way out with the vice-grips.
With the cover finally out of the way—with only minimal damage to the where the cover had been painted in place 20 times—I was able to peer into the opening. Waving the flashlight, I wound up enough cobwebs to make a place for my head to look around. The air smelled the way old attics smell—an odd concoction of dust, wood, rodents and insects—marinated by time and extreme temperatures. The dust and cobwebs covered an assortment of items—perhaps left by the first occupants of the home. Other items that I could see were more mid-20th Century—but nothing seemed newer than that. I was obviously the first person to wrestle with those old screws in a very long time.
Sometimes things become etched in one’s mind like petroglyphs. The edges smooth out a bit over the years but the basic shapes remain. As a boy, I traveled to the Northwest and only one “petroglyph” remained from that visit. Of course there were the lesser petroglyphs of the Space Needle, the flying fish at Pike Market and the Conservatory on Capitol Hill, but everyone remembers those things. It was the “Northwest light” that remained the most deeply etched in my mind.