Saturday, May 31, 2008

A Car Accident, an Awakening

This morning I woke up to a car accident that occurred right on the corner where my apartment building stands. A guy in a Cadillac tried to turn left down Cleveland Place, which is a one-way, and ended up slamming into a pickup truck. Then the guy behind him rear-ended him. The Cadillac was really fucked up, and I wanted to cry when I saw the man, a well-dressed guy in his 60's or 70's who reminded me of the Dad from Six Feet Under, slowly climb out from the car. He looked shaken up, but worse, it looked like he completely felt like his age was to blame for the accident. There was a shame that eclipsed his face as he pulled himself from the wrecked car. Pedestrians circled around him, one dialing 911, another slinging the man's arm over his shoulder to help him to the sidewalk.

And then it struck me that the worst part of getting old is losing your dignity. You were once a young, fit, lively human being who fucked your wife and scolded your children and danced at parties and ordered two glasses of wine at dinner. Somehow, as the years peel, all of that feels squandered as it weaves itself into memory and the distinct notion that the past is over, and all that lies ahead is something vaguely worse than death - living without your dignity, living without really living.

Luckily no one was seriously injured and like the entire NYPD was called out to clean up the accident. Now all that remains are little rainbows dotting the street where oil spilled from the engine, though it's raining in New York now, so soon those will be gone, too.


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