This morning, before my day began, I drove to a coffee shop to do a little writing. About ten minutes from home, I encountered a knot of traffic; as I reached the center of it, it became apparent that an accident had just happened. Several people had already begun to assist the driver, so I continued on my way, pulling to the side of the road three times to permit emergency vehicles to fly past without obstacle.
Seventy-five minutes later, I left the coffee shop and headed back home to begin my day of work. There were things on my mind: the county was going to send an inspector today to look at the radon system we had installed two years ago, when we moved in, for example.
Every so often I find myself bored with my usual slate of podcasts, so I download a whole slew of new ones, and sample a few episodes before arriving at a verdict. On my way home, I was listening to D.C. Diary, which I think is a lot of little conversations with people who are boots-on-the-ground in our nation's capital, shining some light on misconceptions about the city and how it works. I was only half-listening, really, my mind elsewhere, and then I heard this little snippet, from a transgender man talking about his experiences moving through the city, in his workplace:
"There's no training on how not to leave a little piece of yourself at every scene."
The line grabbed me, and I paused the podcast to think about why. Oh. I was driving right through the space where, just a bit over an hour before, a person had been sitting in the middle of the highway, slumped against the side of their crumpled car, head in their hands, strangers all around them, glass scattered in thick carpets across the road—and there wasn't a shred of evidence that the event had ever happened. The glass had been swept away; the car's wrenched-off bumper had been picked up; the two vehicles had been towed. Did anyone driving past know what had happened here only a short time before? Was it just me?
The highway flows, and when something interrupted that flow, the highway did what the highway does: it attacked the obstacle like white blood cells after a virus, dismantling it, tucking its parts away wherever those parts might go. And then it flowed on again, as if nothing had happened. It's efficient and tragic at the same time, admirable and perfectly ordinary.
There's a whole lot of metaphor there, I think, for everything.