In the summer of 1969, when I was first meeting the tribe of kids who already lived on Liberty Street, hanging around on the Sullivans' stoop while my parents worked interminably to get our new house habitable, we were all about the zodiac.
Our lingua franca: What's Your Sign?
That Karen was Taurus like my sister, and that her sister was Virgo like my father -- these data bits eased my transition into that foreign world. Astrology made us familiar to each other, comprehensible.
My favorite horo-source these days is Free Will Astrology. I'm not a regular reader, but can count on my lovely friend and sister Capricorn, Chrissy, to share particularly juicy horoscopes via Facebook, as she did this week. Here's Capricorn for the week of November 29th:
According to Greek myth, Perseus cut off the head of Medusa. She was the creature whose hair was composed of snakes and whose gaze could turn a person into stone. The immortal winged horse Pegasus was instantaneously born from Medusa's blood. He ultimately became an ally to the nine Muses, and Zeus relied on him to carry thunder and lightning. I predict that while you're sleeping, Capricorn, you will have a dream that contains elements of this myth. Here's a preliminary interpretation of that dream: You are undergoing a transition that could in a sense give you the power of flight and a more abundant access to a muse.
I read the horoscope and wondered at it, went to sleep and didn't have a dream exactly that contains elements of this myth. But life is but a dream, right?
Last night at 5:45, I had my very first car accident on my way home from work with Mr. Burns in the back. I swerved to miss the older model Toyota Tacoma, dark green or blue that was at a full stop on the on-ramp in front of me, turning back from checking on the dog who was acting weird and wouldn't settle, to see brake lights so close, too close, but still plowed my beloved little Prius into the right side of that bumper, horribly crunching the hood, making that heart-stopping sound. Even as the words OH SHIT left my mouth as I tried to correct, too late, no correction, I knew.
We have a tendency to seek a lesson from everything. As in: everything happens for a reason, right? Immediately that voice started up in my head. As in: maybe I had too good a day at work and the universe needed to take me down a notch. As in: maybe it was my hubris earlier that same day when I declared my luck was turning, I could feel it. To which the universe, in this way of thinking, always seeking to keep everything in some weird sort of mediocre equilibrium, responded by throwing a stopped car in my path. I'll show you, this cranky universe sneered.
If there's a lesson in this car crash, it's only this: when driving, keep your eyes, as much as possible, on the road. Conditions change.
If there's a why in this car crash, as in why did this happen to me, what did I do to deserve this, it's only that I turned around for a second to check on Burns, why he wouldn't settle, and didn't see that traffic, once moving, was no longer. That's why they call them accidents. Sure, it was totally my fault, but it wasn't punishment or just desserts or any of that.
I don't think I inhabit a crotchety universe plotting my downfall, slapping me down when I get too uppity and big for my britches. That's so ugly and limited.
Instead in that very moment when I could still hear my own ringing OH SHIT, in the glow of all those flashing warning lights on the dash, I sat back and went,
Hunh, that's some kind of flying, Pegasus.
Yes, perpetual Pollyanna that I am, I saw the Pegasus in that moment. Sure, I was shaking and freaked out, very first accident after 24 years of driving. But also: Pegasus. From the blood of my car on the road: Pegasus.
The other driver came to the window, introduced himself, smiled, shook my hand, said it was a pleasure to meet me, despite the circumstances. The CHP officers were charming and helpful, as was the tow-truck driver. The auto insurance guy was efficient and funny, the car rental agency super-prompt.
Of course I'm in transition. Aren't we all, all the time, whether we intend it or not? I didn't plan for my little vehicle to transition so abruptly from useful to totalled, for me to go from sparkly clean driving record to lame-ass rear-ender, but there you go. That's what happened. It was totally my fault -- how can it be otherwise when your car slams into the car ahead of you? -- but though I am responsible for what happened, I don't feel blame. This is not a slap-down from the universe. This is not punishment.
This, my friends, is a Pegasus.
I have no idea what's going to happen next, but I guess that's the thing about transition: it's a wide open field. Eyes on the road, people: conditions change. But that's good, that's right, that's how it is.
Maybe my next car will get a name. I bet you can guess what it'll be.