This title isn’t meant to be a figure of speech, or even an exaggeration. This title 100% accurately depicts the events I’m about to share with you. There is only one new character for this story, Gertrude. I’d like to take a moment to point out that I’ve replaced the names of all my ex’s in this book with old lady names, because it amuses me. Gertrude and I dated for a couple years, and for a while we were in Rocky together. We’d actually met at Rocky, which may tell you more than you’d like to guess about the type of person she is. In her defense though, I never had a complaint about her as a girlfriend. Even my friends who didn’t like her didn’t have anything negative to say about our relationship.
The setting? The drive home from Rocky. I have previously addressed how exhausted you are after Rocky, and that 45 minute drive home feels like it takes years. It’s actually thanks to three years of driving home from Rocky well beyond the point of exhaustion that I can now confidently drive however long I want under any conditions without fear of falling asleep at the wheel. I’ve probably clocked more miles half asleep than I ever have awake.
Now, Gertrude and I had a very fair and simple division of labour to make that drive as pleasant as possible. Every week I would drive, and she would sleep in the passenger seat. It was a good arrangement, because…ummm…yeah that just sucked.
This particular night it was raining, and raining HARD. Luckily we were about the only car on the road. This is lucky because it was raining hard enough that I could barely see the road. I began driving by Braille. This is when you put your tires on top of the dividing line so you can feel it bump on the little safety thingies. I’m assuming that’s what they are there for.
Now, I drive remarkably well in rain for a Texan. Most Texans see rain and just decide to live in their car on the side of the road for a couple weeks until they get over the whole mysterious “water from the sky” thing. And we’re not even going to begin addressing the issue of Texans driving on ice or snow, the state just shuts completely down.
This is where our story takes a turn for the worse. I glanced off to the left, I don’t know why, I’ll never know why, the reason for this decision will always remain a mystery to me, but the consequences are something I’ll never be able to forget. Just as I look over there I see a lightning bolt hit a giant transformer. After that all I see is blue. Baby blue. Undifferentiated, no shades or hues, it’s solid blue. I’m going down the road at 60 miles an hour in treacherous weather, and I’m blind.
One of my greatest attributes is being calm in a crisis. I knew I couldn’t start freaking out, because it’d wake up Gertrude and she’d start freaking out, and we’d crash, and we’d die. So I very gently reach over and wake her up. I explain to her very calmly that I need her to take the wheel of the vehicle and slowly move us onto the shoulder. I tell her I’m going to start gradually decelerating, and that everything will be fine. I honestly feel I should get some bonus points for thinking that quickly on my feet. Stuck blind by lightning, I don’t swerve or slam on the brakes, I arrange for the passenger to slowly go for the shoulder while I gradually decelerate. Honestly, the more I think about it, the more I’d like a trophy or a plaque for that kind of intelligence under fire.
And here’s where you get to learn a little bit of Gertrude’s back-story. Not long before we began dating, she’d been in a very bad car wreck. She had metal in her leg, and some serious post-traumatic stress issues. It was not uncommon for her to start wigging out and crying if I turned a corner too fast, or bumped a curb. Once, with a car full of people, I actually had to pull over to the side of the road and calm her down after a car cut me off in traffic. She had issues with cars. So you can imagine her reaction to being woken up in the middle of a car ride home, when it’s raining too hard to see more than a few feet in front of us, we’re going sixty miles an hour, and the driver is blind. To say she begins freaking out is an understatement.
I can’t recall her exact words, I was a little focused on my own personal crisis, but there was a lot of sobbing, high-pitched screeching, and the phrase “Oh my God” over and over again. Normally when she yelled something like this, it was under much more pleasant circumstances. These were not pleasant circumstances.
Now, I’m blind. And I can’t help but having a thought flash through my head really quick.
I’d heard about a film called Blue, which is a documentary about a man dying of AIDS, and about two thirds of the way through the film the man goes blind, and all he can see is blue. The film itself represents this by having the last third of the film be a nice light blue, and all you can do is listen. This had me thinking that maybe all blind people see blue. It’s not like they’d know it was blue, so they couldn’t tell us. We assume they see black, but that’s a pretty big assumption.
So with that racing through my mind, and the fact that I can’t make out ANY shapes or hues or variations, I’m honestly concerned that I might be blind for life. What am I going to do for the rest of my life? I can’t be blind filmmaker! I’d end up with practical jokers for Cinematographers who’d make sure the film was pointed at the floor the whole time, and assuring me it’s the greatest footage ever filmed. I could still write, sure, but I’d have to hire someone to actually type stuff for me. Imagine if I wrote an entire novel or screenplay with my fingers one key over from the home row. Almost everything I enjoy in life involves SIGHT, and now I may have lost it for good. This is so much worse than not having socks.
I don’t have time to deal with that fear though, because this entire situation with driving has completely flipped Gertrude out. So I’m trying to calm her down, which means staying calm myself. We sit in the car with her sobbing, and me trying desperately to make out ANY sign of my vision returning. Gertrude had many great qualities, but I’m still amazed how in this situation she didn’t even once seem to think about me or my fears. Still, keeping her calm kept me calm, so if we wanted to pretend we could claim that she was actually pretending to be freaked out because it was the only way to keep me calm. Truly she was just being self-centered.
After about 15 minutes my vision began to come back, and once I could see again, Gertrude calmed down and went back to sleep. Why shouldn’t she? She’d just been through a horrible traumatic event, it must have worn out her already exhausted body. Me? I’d just had a peachy keen time, so it was only natural that I should drive the rest of the way home.
The rest of the drive was uneventful, but it will remain one of the scariest moments of my life.