It’s all in the frame. That’s what my friend Nan said when I told her about the car accident last week, the way I barreled into the intersection, the collapse of the cars, the older Asian man who emerged from his vehicle intact.
It’s all in the frame, she said, how I stood there squinting into the bright Oakland morning sun holding my phone, texting the man I was supposed to meet for coffee, “You won’t believe this,” I tapped, how I then turned to the older man who was staring at his car dumbfounded, the way he turned to me, “why?” he seemed to be saying with his eyes.
It was all in the frame. Impossible to take in, one minute at the stop sign deciding whether to turn right and look for parking or maybe go through the intersection…
The moment of impact, the sound of it – sonic – two big cars colliding.
How the man’s Subaru sat like a defeated animal on the side of the road – two flat tires pushed up against the curb, the passenger side of his car completely crumpled, airbags inflated.
Later I’d be grateful no one was sitting in that passenger seat, that he’d left his wife at home before heading to Costco.
It was all in the frame. The 911 operator who tells me that there are 192 emergency calls ahead of mine and that if there are no injuries to simply call our insurance companies.
How the older man had forgotten his phone and that I called his insurance company for him. “Are you sure you want to file his claim for him?” the woman on the other end seemed to snicker, like I was doing some huge insurance no-no by helping him.
All the people in cars who stopped to see if we were okay.
And the cold water the man I was supposed to meet for coffee brought to the scene. The way he handed over his phone to the older man, and the way I pointed to my date’s shoulder, “can I borrow that for a moment?” as I lay my head down on it for 10 seconds to catch my breath before I called my insurance company and tried to think through the car trip to Seattle I was set to take with my kids two days later.
All in the frame. The badminton racquet that the man grabbed from his car when the tow truck came – how he got into the back seat of my car and navigated us to his home, a blue A-Frame which stood across the street from the freeway. “I’m an old man, 74-years old,” he said with a smile as he hopped out of my car.
All in the frame, Nan said, by which she meant we can’t just curate our lives into a catalog of pretty pictures – pick and choose what we want, what will make us happy – because there is room in this frame of life for all of it.
The rental car after the car accident, the 14-hour drive to Seattle through the California and Oregon fires, the Montana river trip that had been planned for months, and which would get canceled because the river was too dry. “Climate change,” I told my daughters. Jeff Bezos taking off into space,“Best day of my life,” he told the cameras.
All in the frame, how I stuck my nose into every sweet smelling butterfly bush on the streets of Olympia, WA, the impromptu camping trip with those luxurious morning campfires, coffee and card games, how my two daughters and I all slept on one blow-up mattress like happy sardines, and later, the fight with my older daughter right after I posted enviable shots of that very camping trip. The apologies that followed – mine for insensitivity to her tears, hers for a kind of cruelty that children know.
It’s all in the frame, the car I didn’t see coming through the intersection, the reaction I didn’t see coming from readers who responded to a comment I made in the newsletter about the pandemic and how life was feeling eerily normal again in California – at least for a moment.
The people who unsubscribed, the people who said they’d been living in what felt like the post pandemic bubble like me, the email from the reader in Singapore who told me that she is allowed to receive two visitors per day, the nurse who said the only reason she had time to write to me was because no one had come to her mobile vaccination truck for three hours, the woman from the U.K. who used the word mayhem to describe the mood on the street since all covid restrictions had been lifted.
How it’s one thing to read the news, and it’s another to hear from real people.
Like you. In the frame. With me.
Listen to Laurie read this post …
YOU. You have me welling up. We are all just doing our best, muddling through our particular realities. I am incredibly grateful for your honesty and your generous humanity.
What she said. Thx for both of your words … that leave me feeling more human. xo
Wow. So human. So real. I felt like I was in your mind and had to gasp for breath at the end of the read as I was holding mine tightly the whole read through… 192 emergency calls ahead of you, god damn East Bay; these times, so stressful, but you’ve somehow found beauty in a manure pile! Clap clap!
incredible post. beautiful writing. heart wrenching reality. complex and layered. I am of course relieved you are fine, and the old man in the car unharmed. The strange destination for a date and coffee from a man whose shoulder you borrowed. loving all that you saw and the fires. It is brilliant and completely inclusive of this veil-torn-away time. love, Laura
Really beautiful, Laurie. “All in the frame” indeed! Perfect refrain for making space, for taking in, welcoming every bit of life’s offerings into our conscious awareness. Your gentleness in discussing your own culpability, right alongside random happenings and observations of beauty, is what inspires me most. ❤️
I am so glad no one was physically injured in the car accident. Blessed. Thank you for sharing your beautiful writing.
Appreciate your visceral reminder of how “we can’t just curate our lives into a catalog of pretty pictures – pick and choose what we want, what will make us happy – because there is room in this frame of life for all of it.” We are indeed all in the frame, each of us seeking butterfly-bush-beauty alongside the collision with harsh realities in our lives. This is real living and you have given us a gift of sharing your experience. thank you xoxo
Thank you Laurie. Your beautiful heart, mind and writing always takes my breath away xx
My heart just went to vapor, reading this. Last Fall, our home was destroyed by the largest wildfire in California history, in the middle of a global pandemic.
Now, we continue to face delays, COVID-related and otherwise. And: the richness of love and generosity continues, here in the after of the aftermath.
You cannot curate your life, indeed. Love.
Thank you Laurie for opening your heart and soul on the page.
Just like you’re teaching us to do.
I was there with you at that intersection. “ …one minute at the stop sign deciding whether to turn right and maybe look for parking or go through the intersection…”. And loved the comparisons to other relationship intersections in your life.
What a beautiful piece-so honest and raw and well written..thank you!
Always serving up reality w gorgeous writing. Sending love…
Thank you. I’m sorry that people took your words as insensitivity. It’s as if any time we write something like “life is good” or “this pandemic year worked out ok for me, the introvert,” we must be surely be an insensitive lout, and have to add disclaimers, yes I’m grateful, yes I’m privileged, yes I understand that everything sucks most of the time for a whole lot of people, and sometimes for me too. It becomes bulky and not very interesting writing at a certain point. But to invite and hear the words of others is a privilege, and I appreciate you being there to hear them.
So good. So good. Thank you.
Laurie Laurie. Yum.
Beautiful, harsh and authentic. I love how you show up on the page and reveal your humanity. It’s touching and brave and opens an invitation to door for us all to step through. Thanks.
Such a powerful piece. Your writing reminds us that everything is connected, that we are all connected. As you said, you cannot curate your life, but you can, and have, curated your writing response to it through your crystal-clear, spot-on word choices that have allowed us to be in the moment with you, and even inside your heart. This piece also brings me back to the poem “Before” by Ada Limon, that you read to us earlier this year. Before the intersection. Before the river in Montana dried up and you couldn’t go. I can’t help thinking that each of those 192 emergency calls ahead of you all had a “before” as well, and about the infinite number of stories to be told out there in the world. You teach us that writing is its own medicine, and that is so clear in this piece, for you and for all of us who read this. Our collective and connected humanity hungers for the writing practice you teach through your work. You are a gift. So, so grateful that you (and the man in the other car) emerged from this “before” physically unscathed.
So much love to you from me. Put that in the frame. So happy you are safe snd found snd here to tell all the stories. Big kiss!
Laurie, I subscribe to many blogs, websites, etc, etc. Yours is the only one I open and read immediately. I always mean to comment, but rarely do I. I wanted to write after your last post…about things returning to normal ‘post pandemic.’ I live in Canada, but am from South Africa, and needed to return there recently to look after my mother when she had a heart attack. The two “realities” provided such a stark pandemic contrast. But one reality is not better or worse than the other. It’s simply life. We write from our own reality. It’s all we can do. And you do it so completely beautifully. And I feel very sad for those humans who felt compelled to unsubscribe – they are missing out. Sending you much love, gratitude and a cartload of sparkles for good measure. I adore the words and the heart you put out into this world. Don’t ever stop.
So sorry about your river trip. Montana is short on water and other things. It would have been beautiful though. five years ago or five years from now God willing. I’m glad you are ok and I’m jealous you have a boyfriend. I’ve just been recently widowed. It’s all a circle of prayer and loss. Prayer and joy. that’s life, ey?
Beautiful Laurie. Just beautiful.
So happy you are alive and healthy after the accident and that you got to camp with your daughters. Thanks for your insight and for your writing. Sending love.
I just discovered you, thanks to my soul sister, JoAnn. I will NEVER unsubscribe. We’re in this together.
Laurie, Thankful for you and your deeply contoured frames. I have had two car accidents in my life (20 years apart) at trafficked intersections. Reading your experience brought me right back to those collisions. I relived the experiences reading your article and thought about what else was happening in my life at that time to soften the frame of memories.
Your writing wakes me up. Hugs to you.
Honesty amidst the messiness of life. A rarified trait. Thank-you for showing how to face difficulties with grace and presence.
Laurie, it makes my heart sing to see so many people connecting with your work. The way your words capture snapshots of life and seamlessly expand small moments into big thoughts. I have and always will love your generosity in sharing you being you.
Beautiful piece, Laurie. I am sorry, sorry, sorry. xoxo
Wow! Powerful, beautiful writing. It contains to play in my mind almost like a memory.