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?”


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.

9 Replies to “Detritus Returned”

  1. I can't believe the mom didn't even get out to say hi, and, you know, maybe thank you for calling 911. Sheesh. People are strange.

  2. It's strange to get a glimpse into other peoples' life stream. So strange that she seems to have taken the survival thing for granted.

    But I suppose that I was young and indestructible once, too.

  3. Is it bitchy of me to say I can't believe Mom didn't bother to get out of th car? How did she know she wasn't driving her daughter to the house of a serial killer? What the hell is wrong with people these days? One second thought, I guess it's something Mom actually came along.

    And that kid won't learn her lesson until she's over 30 and realizes what a dumbass she is. 😀

  4. I'm glad it's not just me on the mom not getting out of the car! It's possible the girl never mentioned that we'd called 911. Still…

    But you're right, Linda, people are strange.

    I hear you, Laura, maybe we should envy her total faith in the universe!

    I think it's deserved bitchy, MM – how did she know I'd walk out on the patio? I'd proved I was stalkery!

  5. Prada reading glasses, happy about flipping her car, and a boing-boing.

    She's still a great starting point for a character, probably side-kick material. Perky spaz who gets all the icky grunt work.

  6. I love this idea, KAK! She'd make a wonderful character, forever being rescued from certain death, forever chipper and oblivious….

  7. This was such a fascinating, compelling read. Part of me boggles at the mom not getting out of the car. Another part of me wonders if it wasn't hard for even to drive there to begin with, seeing as the purpose for the visit recalled such a horrible event. What really sticks with me are the Prada glasses. It's amazing to me that in the face of a horrific accident, a pair of glasses can yet bring so much joy.

  8. Sort of a sad commentary in some ways.

    I had a friend in high school who did the same thing. She and another friend were coming back from the beach Monday morning in the AM to make it to school. (Probably like 2 in the morning). She had just put her seatbelt on, but the window was open and she had her hand on the door.

    The driver took a turn way too fast and flipped the car and my friend's fingers were mostly sheared off. Because it was in the middle of no-where and well before the days of cell phones, she actually almost bled to death before another driver came upon them.

    She did survive, and of course it changed her, for a while. There was some reconstructive surgery involved, but her hand was never going to be right after that.

    But it was interesting to see her change in demeanor. She was extremely pretty and popular and held court to a huge chunk of the school, but afterwards, she seemed to be a little more down to earth. I often wonder where she is now.

  9. Good points, Deb – and they had to drive past right where the girl rolled her car, since it was right by our house. And it's true – sometimes the smallest things bring us pleasure.

    That's an interesting story, Allison. I wonder, too, how she'd characterize that event now.

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