by Kristina Wright
I had a childhood fascination with Joan of Arc. I read everything I could about her, rereading the same biographies again and again. I had a similar fascination with Anne Boleyn, Lady Jane Grey and other royal women who died tragically. I lived a safe childhood-- I really wasn't allowed to do anything that wasn't under my mother's watchful eye-- so I was intrigued by the adventures (and untimely demises) of historical women. I didn't want to die, of course, but there was something fascinating about reading the fates of those young women while safe in my bed.
My high school years were a different story. By the time I was fifteen, I was getting into bars (it was South Florida, the drinking age was 19 and the beach bars were lenient), playing stupid pranks, going where I wasn't supposed to go. But even my teenage rebellion was safe-- I rarely did anything that would truly qualify as dangerous. Getting into bars was more to see if I could than to get drunk or flirt men a decade or more older than me. (Ewww!) I was the DD more often than not, as well as the voice of wisdom when the pranks started. Generally, I kept my friends (and myself) out of trouble. I was a mother hen even then, it seems.
Like a lot of creative types, I've had periods of depression, dark valleys I wasn't sure I'd ever be able to climb out of, starting during those teen years. I did climb out, every time, but probably the only truly dangerous times in my life have been when I was tied up tight by the darkness in my own head. Sleep was my only comfort and sleeping forever seemed preferable to the pain of waking to the perceived darkness I was living with. But I didn't sleep forever-- I woke up and sun was shining. Eventually.
My adulthood has been relatively injury and accident free. The only scars I have are the result of birthing two large babies, the only hospital stays have been for those babies and a bad asthma attack. I've driven a sports car for the past twenty years, but I haven't gotten a speeding ticket since before I owned this car. I have no dangerous hobbies and my health is generally sound (though less so of late). There have been no near death experiences for me. I guess that's boring.
And yet, and yet. I have always believed in intuition, luck, fate, serendipity. I have indulged those instincts that say "turn around," "go home," "take this turn instead of the next," "walk faster," "don't go there today." I have come close to potential disaster a few times and only by the benefit of being in the right place at the right time have I avoided having an interesting story to tell. I've also avoided death, so I'm okay with being boring like that.
Once when I was a kid, maybe thirteen or fourteen, I made a milkshake in my mother's blender. Milk, ice cream, put the lid on, press the button, walk out of the room for a second to get something. Loud noise. Then, a louder noise followed by milkshake gushing out the side of the blender. I was confused. What had happened? I pressed "off," carried the leaking blender to the sink, poured the milkshake out and looked inside. There was a gash in the hard plastic blender and the blade was gone. It had come off while blending and penetrated the plastic blender. But where was it? I looked around and saw it lodged in the wall across the room. It was an utterly freak accident-- one that you wouldn't think is possible, except I saw it. I still remember feeling bewildered as I watched my failed milkshake trickle out the side of the blender and wondering how that could be happening. And seeing the blade in the wall-- sharp enough to penetrate hard plastic, fly across the room and stick in the wall-- or into me, if I'd been standing in a different spot.
Similarly bizarre situation last year-- driving down a dark road after midnight and having two deer dart out in front of my very small sports car. One deer got by me, but the other didn't move quick enough and I was going fifty miles an hour-- too fast to slow down in time and nowhere to go but straight into him. A jarring shudder on impact, but that was all. The car kept going, the deer was nowhere to be seen. The only damage when I got home was a broken light casing with just a bit of deer fur to prove that there had been impact of some sort. My husband insists I didn't hit the deer with my car, but that the deer kicked my car as he darted across. It's possible. Hitting a deer in my little car would be sure death for me.
I have dozens of stories like that. Near misses and almosts, potentially bad situations that turned in my favor before they were a real threat. I'm lucky. Really lucky. Or I have a guardian angel who's been really busy keeping me safe. I don't question it, I just trust my instincts and believe I will be okay. So far, I have been. Lucky me.