Sunday, March 7, 2010

oncoming headlights

I do stupid things sometimes. Things that jeopardize life and limb. More often latter than former, but that's beside the point. Despite all the things I've done in the past, I rarely get an injury that can't be treated with ibuprofen.

Rock climbing. Snowboarding. Jaywalking in D.C. Biking on M Street. Driving on New Year's Eve. Passenger of a not-so-stellar driver.

Last night, it almost came crashing down doing something so routine that the sheer absurdity of it took almost 24 hours to sink in. We were on a late night drive to a hotel for an early morning start snowboarding at Wisp in western Maryland. It was about 10:30; no later than other long distance, late night trips I've taken to get to the crag. (Rolling into Grandfather Mountain in North Carolina past the witching hour comes to mind.) Barreling down I-68, getting close to our trip terminus, I saw headlights ahead. I didn't think anything of it until I passed them.

Those oncoming headlights were on my side of the median in the left-hand lane. Going the wrong way. The car seemed as if it were standing still, but that must've been because of our highway speed. Not knowing the number for Maryland Highway Patrol, we called 911. We gave the mile marker, and prayed the cops would show up quickly.

Riding back today, licking my normal snowboarding wounds, I reflected on what had happened. I'm more shaken up about it now than I was then. There would have been no walking away from that crash...

Will it make me more cautious in my dangerous pursuits? Possible, but unlikely. Will it keep me from driving at night? Not a chance. I'm not real sure of the effect it will take, but judging from my past, it's going to rattle around in my brain for a little while before I figure it out.

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