Thursday, December 6, 2012

"The Car Accident," Caroline Anderson

The Car Accident

Caroline Anderson

Ashley just hit my car. The hood of my 2002 Acura TL is now underneath the wheels of her 1998 Toyota Rav 4. I stare at what I can see of my car from the passenger seat in her car, and I am dumfounded. I am speechless. My friends Matt and Robert open their car doors, stand, and then stare. Matt, the first to state the obvious, starts doubling over in laughter. Robert, clueless, follows in Matt’s example, turns to him, looks at the car, and then also starts laughing hysterically. Through the haze of laughter, my only conceivable thought is why on God’s green earth does all the bad stuff happen to me. Of all the cars in the parking lot, why is it that my car is the one that’s hit? Why doesn’t Ashley pay more attention?

As Ashley and I sit in the car, the laughter from lunch quickly comes to an end as we stare into the windshield of my car. As her foot releases the gas pedal and quickly finds the brake, she reverses and nearly misses the car parked behind her. I’m sure the redneck that owned the monster truck would be even less pleased than I that his prized possession had a dent in it. I leave the Toyota to assess my surroundings while my brain empties of all thought. Do I laugh or do I cry? So far the appropriate response from everyone else is to laugh. Then again if I had seen a car literally hop on top of another I might find some hilarity in it too. However, my car was underneath the Toyota. Not Ashley’s, not Matt’s, not Robert’s, but mine.

I finally obtain a good view of the hood, and as my brain starts to function, it quickly fills with worry and hysterics. I might be in serious trouble with my parents. My dad is crazy about his vehicles, and the Acura used to be his. I wasn’t even the person driving. I was just a participant, maybe even an innocent bystander. I’m sure when I tell my parents about the incident they’ll find some way to blame me for it though. For example, why didn’t I tell her to slow down or pay more attention to the road? Why was she racing Robert to begin with? This accident would sound pretty ridiculous if I told my dad we wanted a better parking spot than Robert; then I’ll definitely be paying for the repairs.

Accidents happen all the time. I don’t blame Ashley for the accident, even though I did at the time. Yes, I was angry, and wish the incident never occurred, but she is still my friend. No accident would cause us to stop being friends. We have gone through some trials, such as disagreements over boys or school, but we will always be there for one another. We drifted apart our senior year, but maybe that’s my fault for never being there for her. I missed several of her cheerleading competitions and she probably felt like I didn’t care. When I started working at Atlanta Bread Company I wasn’t able to spend as much time with my friends as I wanted to. Whenever I had any free time I usually spent that time sleeping. Overall, I think as we become older and mature, time sometimes pulls friends farther apart from one another.

Relationships are supposed to change between friends, as we age and mature; I understand that, but why? Why can’t we continue just as we have for the past eighteen years? For example, living with our parents hasn’t been that terrible. We complain we want independence, but what for? While we’re growing up our parents pay for everything we do. They provide food, shelter, clothing, and education—not to mention they actually care what happens to us. What would we have if we didn’t have our parents to support us? Family and friends are necessary. Family and friends are supposed to make you happy when you’re sad and help you through the difficult parts of life. Family and friends are supposed to care, and it seems like Ashley, Robert, and Matt clearly don’t care as much as I thought they did. Maybe I am just over-reacting. I know the car is just a material object, a possession people use to travel from place to place, but I feel like the situation means more.

Ashley, of course, was shocked over the accident, but she didn’t care as much as I thought she would. Our friendship over the past few years suddenly tore us further from one another than I thought possible. We’ve lost meaning to our friendship over the course of a few short months because we can’t communicate with each other any more. For example, one day I had a tough day at work dealing with tiresome customers and exasperating managers and wanted someone to talk to. I called Ashley to let her know why the night was so horrible, and she only wanted to talk about her boyfriend, Matt. I’m always interested to hear what she has to say, but sometimes I just need my friend to listen. Our conversations from now on might as well just consist of, “Hey, what did you think of the weather today?” Friends are supposed to patiently listen to one another, but that communication is supposed to work both ways. What does our friendship mean if we can’t talk to each other? Our once close relationship has suddenly become shallow and trivial.

Teenagers hear adults talk about the stories of their youth and the incidents that tore apart their friendships. I thought my friends and I would be different, but as the school year goes on, we might not be close lifelong friends after all. We’ve applied to different schools and started to resent one another for scholarly accomplishments. We’ve become more competitive and less caring about each other’s personal life. I’ve begun to wonder how I could have become so distant from my friends. Our car accident, minor it may be, is the spark of the beginning of the end. These relationships we form in high school are just a part of our journey to something better and different than what we’re used to. They’re groundwork for the person that we want and will hopefully become. High school may seem like it’s the main focal point of our life, but in reality it’s just a stepping-stone. The car accident will be forgotten, and the symbolized damage that occurred might seem like nothing at all. When we’re forty we might look back on that day and just think of the memorable expression on my face instead of the breaking point of our friendship.

We all grow apart; it’s just a part of life, but why is it so hard to accept that one day my friends might not be as important to me as they once were? Thinking that we’re growing apart doesn’t make me a horrible person; it just depicts the change that we’re all going through. My friends will eventually find a job or a hobby more important than I do; we have to accept it and move on. The car collision represents our differing opinions colliding, as friends we hardly ever fought and because of it we never got to release our anger and frustrations to one another. This epiphany finally became clear to me while I stood in front of my car in Augusta Christian’s parking lot that we’re just becoming different people.

The Acura surprisingly didn’t have a single dent in the hood, when I was calm enough to examine it, not even a tiny scratch. Who knew that what seemed like a catastrophe and grounding waiting to happen is actually nothing more than horrific experience about differing ideas and opinions between friends. Friends will change, but we will always have memories to look back on. It’s important to move on; I can’t keep looking back at the past hoping that one day our friendship will be different. We decide how our future turns out. People might not agree with everything I decide, but it’s my choice.

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for sharing this well-constructed article, P. L. Thomas. This must be one of your well-treasured papers that were written by your student. I like the way Caroline wrote it; it showed relevant insights. And her voice is quite convincing. Every detail was told in a way that the person reading would believe that the accident really happened.

    Maggie Malone