14 and a half years ago, I was driving on I-74, west, from Indiana towards Urbana. There is a little curve in the road near Covington, Indiana, and a ramp for a gas station.
14 and a half years ago, I fell asleep at the wheel on this curve. With Libby, Zack, and Sandy in the car, I 'drove' through a large green highway sign, and into a ditch, at about 70 miles an hour.
None of us were injured, at all. Not a scratch. We were all asleep until we had slowed down to probably 30 MPH, at which point we all started screaming some variation of "WHAT THE FUCK!!?!?"
The car took about five grand of damage, but we were fine.
Anyhow, I had pretty much forgotten about that site until this weekend. Kristin and I had lunch at Wendy's in Covington while driving to McCormick's this weekend. Looking out the window while eating my chicken sandwich, the highway ramp looked familiar. It was clearly my wreck site.
On the way back to Illinois today, I was looking for my wreck site once we were near Covington. I knew I would recognize it, the curve of the road, the dip of the ditch. You don't forget things that could have killed you. They stick in your brain pretty strong, even after 14 and a half years.
I kept looking, and looking. But didn't find it. Did they change the landscaping? Was it somewhere else and I was deluding myself?
Then I saw it, about three hundred yards up ahead. The highway began to curve. I remembered it now.
I haven't used cruise control since I was 16, on that highway. I haven't used cruise control in 14 and a half years. From my experience, cruise control can kill you. I keep my foot down on that gas pedal, nice and steady, no matter how long the drive. Cruise control, for me, is a trap.
So when I saw my wreck site, I let off the gas, just a bit. Just to be kind to fate, to pay some deference. You don't go fast on the curve that could've killed you and your friends.
My Ipod was on shuffle the whole way. I've got. . . two thousand songs on it, probably. It was randomly going back and forth, through all kinds of stuff.
You know what songs came on when I finally saw my crash site?
Bruce. "Wreck On the Highway."
Swear to God.
Last night I was out drivingComing home at the end of the working day
I was riding alone through the drizzling rain
On a deserted stretch of a county two-lane
When I came upon a wreck on the highway
There was blood and glass all over
And there was nobody there but me
As the rain tumbled down hard and cold
I seen a young man lying by the side of the road
He cried "Mister, won't you help me please"
An ambulance finally came and took him to Riverside
I watched as they drove him away
And I thought of a girlfriend or a young wife
And a state trooper knocking in the middle of the night
To say your baby died in a wreck on the highway
Sometimes I sit up in the darkness
And I watch my baby as she sleeps
Then I climb in bed and I hold her tight
I just lay there awake in the middle of the night
Thinking 'bout the wreck on the highway