Detritus Returned

David snapped this pic of me on the Pacific Beach boardwalk. I like how relaxed and happy I look.

And slim. *note to self: wear those black capris ALL THE TIME.

So, remember back in mid-March when we heard that car wreck? I picked up the things the next morning and photographed them. I had a number of conversations with people about it – in the comments, but also on Facebook and Twitter. My friend from college, Felicia, urged me to try to find the gal because of the Prada reading glasses – the thing Felicia herself would have been most sorry to lose.

I tried tracking the name on the receipt. No luck. My Google Fu is usually quite strong, but not in this case. A couple of prolific local tweeters even took it up to no avail. Nothing in the local news about it. So, I called the police non-emergency line.

Yes, the dispatcher acted like I was nuts for asking.

Finally, I managed to convey my non-stalkery desire to simply return this gal’s things (I didn’t mention follow-up articles on this blog – really hard to make that sound non-stalkery.) The dispatcher said she’d give my information to the Sheriff’s Deputy who was on scene and he’d call me.

He finally did, nearly a week later.

He also proceeded to interview me on precisely what my deal was. He asked what things I wanted to return to “the young lady involved.” By this time I’ve managed to glean that she survived. Totally unimpressed by my catalog of her detritus (I could practically hear him thinking “eye-pencil? she thinks this is important??), he finally says he’ll give my information to the young lady and, if she was interested, she’d call me.

Yes, he absolutely made this sound unlikely.

And she didn’t, for a really long time. By now it’s April and I’ve kind of forgotten about it, except that I have a little paper bag of her things in my office. I start to think about what I should do with it if she never calls.

Then, one day my cell rings and it’s her.

She’s young. So young that her thoughts kind of zing from one topic to the next. She tells me they rolled the car three times. When I tell her we called 911 when we heard the sound, she receives this information with wonder, somehow not processing this. When I say it’s a miracle she survived and wasn’t hurt, she says oh yes and how they were going 75 miles per hour. (It’s a 40 mph zone.) I wonder how she knows this, if she was driving, who “they” were, but she’s already flown past the subject. She wants her things, but – oh – she has no car now, cuz – duh – she wrecked hers! She’ll have to talk her dad into giving her a ride. I tell her where my house is. She says she’ll call when she can come by.

Which she doesn’t.

I think about calling her back, to tell her we’ll be gone for a week. I think better of it. If she calls while we’re on vacay, I’ll just have to say so.

She doesn’t.

Then, yesterday afternoon, my cell rings. A female voice says “are you home?”

Um?

She hastens to fill the silence, “this is Carrie, the girl who was in the car wreck? I can get a ride to your house to get my things, if you’re home. Only I don’t know where your house is.”

So, I tell her again. Five minutes later, a shiny Honda Element pulls into the driveway. I walk out to the patio with the bag. I nearly bring my camera, but – it just seemed wrong. She’s younger even than I thought. Awkward. Shakes my hand and grabs the bag. Reaches in and grabs the Prada reading glasses case with a triumphant squeal. “This! This is what I really wanted!”

Nod to you, Felicia.

I’d envisioned our conversation when we met. How I’d tell her I wrote about her wreck on the blog and all the nice things people said. I think she might say something more to me, but she just bounces and says good-bye. She runs back to the car, opens the passenger door and brandishes the bag of things, doing this little hip-bobbing dance for her mother. The mother, by her unmoving silhouette, seems unimpressed. I’m kind of surprised she doesn’t get out of the car to meet me.

A moment later, they’re gone.

I’m left today thinking about stories and connections. About non-lethal life lessons and whether this carefree girl has learned anything.

I wonder, too, what I learned.

March TBR Challenge

Okay, I’m back from the memorial for my uncle. The celebration of life was well done and I enjoyed seeing the family. I’ll tell you more about it tomorrow.

And thank you for all the wonderful thoughts on the car wreck and those artifacts I picked up. I really appreciated the suggestion from several people that I contact the local police. I’ll do that today and let you all know if I found out anything.

For today though, I really want to get something up for the TBR Challenge 2011.

I totally signed up to participate in the challenge and here it is March already, with me having missed the first two months of the year, somehow. Has anyone seen January or February? They were here a minute ago…

At any rate, Wendy the Super Librarian, who is, not incidentally, also RWA’s Librarian of the Year, is hosting this year’s TBR Challenge. The idea is to pluck something out of your massive To-Be-Read (TBR) pile – yes, we know you have one. Don’t lie – that loosely fits the theme, read it and blog about it on the third Wednesday of the month.

This month’s theme? A new-to-you author.

So, Kate Elliott has been in my TBR pile for a long time. Spirit Gate and King’s Dragon have both languished in the paper pile since before we moved. That’s right – piled up with Eat, Pray, Love, which you all told me to go read to wash the movie from my head. I’ll get to it, okay?

That’s part of the point of this: to get to those books you’ve been meaning to read. KAK and I were just discussing yesterday how much less we read these days. I really want to devote more time to it. Getting on the TBR Challenge track is a great way to do it.

I also have about five pages of books waiting to be read in my Kindle. One of them is Kate’s Cold Magic. Yes – a third unread book of this particular author who everyone and their parrot tells me to read and I keep not getting to.

So, there I was, struggling through the newest book in a series by an author who shall remain unnamed. Suffice to say I used to love love love this series. The last one was meh and this one was so unrewarding that I felt depressed reading it. Halfway through the book, I deleted it from the Kindle.

This is the modern, though less dramatic, version of throwing the book across the room.

I fumed for a bit, thinking it’s me. I’ve lost my attention span. As one book blogger puts it, I lost my reading mojo. Maybe I just hate everything?

And, recalling the TBR challenge and that Kate Elliott is technically new to me, I opened Cold Magic.

Angels sang. Unicorns – yes, they were still dancing from before – capered madly.

You guys: This Is A Really Good Book.

I confess I’m only about 25% in. But immediately I felt in the hands of a master storyteller. I’m sinking into this world with the gratitude of a starving cat falling into a vat of tuna. It feels like forever since I couldn’t wait to get back to a book. It’s like discovering love all over again.

I would say more, but I have to finish my work so I can go read!

Detritus

Saturday night, we heard a sound.

Both deeply asleep, David and I jumped upright at the sound out our window. Though we live in a rural area, there’s a paved two-lane road not far away. Given the way the houses are laid out, the road curves past, not really all that far from our bedroom window. We can’t see it, because it drops below a rise, and usually we can’t hear it.

But Saturday night, we heard the screech of tires, then a crash. A huge crash, like an enormous bubble popping. Suddenly and fully awake, I knew someone had rolled their car. I dashed for my cell phone to call 911. David grabbed the binoculars, to try to see. We have no streetlights either, so it wasn’t easy. I looked at my clock – 12:37, because I’d set it ahead for daylight savings time when we went to sleep. We’d been asleep maybe an hour.

I feel like I was fuzzy, telling the 911 operator. By the sound I knew it was bad. She said they’d send someone to check it out. David could see a car dome light and people walking around. With my glasses, the binoculars wouldn’t focus right, so I stopped trying to see. We debated putting on our clothes and walking the half-mile to see. But what could we do?

In the morning, I suggested that we walk over, to see what we could put together. We found the tire tracks going off the asphalt onto the soft dirt, right where the road curves from the straightaway. Dirt and weeds sprayed across the nearby walking path. Pieces of car were strewn about. Strips of shatter-proof glass, bits of bumper and so forth. We found another set of deep-dug tracks, where the tow-truck had pulled the car out.

And I found her things. It looked like stuff from her purse. The Lancome eye pencils, the eye-shadow brush and compact. A pair of dirt-encrusted sunglasses and Prada reading glasses, still in their case. A receipt for jewelry – from last April – and a lens-cleaning kit from Santa Fe Optical. Thirty cents in change. I picked it all up, while David waited on the walking trail with Zip, keeping him away from the broken glass. Then I started to pile it up, thinking she might come looking for what she’d missed, in shock and in the dark of night. But she might be in the hospital. Or dead. And kids would pick it up, keep it and not care.

So, now I have these things of hers. Along with a name on the nearly year-old receipt. She’s not listed in the phone book. I’d like to find her, if I could. I’ve worried about her all day. Was she hurt? Maybe she’s okay, just rattled by her near-miss. Pissed that the car was totaled.

David said he dreamed all night about cars crashing. He thinks someone died.

I just remember that sound. The screech and pop.

I put her things in a bag, just in case.