WHAT HAPPENS WHEN YOU'RE IN A HEAD-ON COLLISION

When I was sixteen I was in the backseat of a car as it turned left and hit another car head-on. Here's how that feels.
  1. Time slows down.
    It felt like minutes but it obviously only lasted a few seconds. I registered every second as it happened with an eerie, removed calmness. "We're hitting the car." "We hit the car." "It wasn't so bad." (It was bad.)
  2. Your senses stop working.
    Don't know how else to explain it. I didn't hear the crash, I didn't see the crash, I didn't feel the pressure, I didn't smell the scraped metal or the blown airbags...and I wasn't eating anything. So.
  3. Time speeds back up.
    Fuck. That fucking sucked. Am I ok? I'm ok. What now?
  4. There's a lot of standing around afterwards.
    Because no one was seriously hurt (some broken bones, bruised knees, and whiplash) there was some momentary excitement from the cops and the ambulances, but there was mostly a lot of people going about their jobs while you wait for what happens next.
  5. You have to force yourself to get behind the wheel of a car again, and quickly.
    My parents forced me to drive around our neighborhood that night, and it was super helpful. It took a few weeks for the other passenger to drive again. The driver of the car didn't get behind the wheel for another year.
  6. Your memory of the time before the accident disappears and comes back a while later.
    I realized that I could not remember the fifteen minutes or so spent in the car prior to the accident. I couldn't remember the route we took or what we talked about. Eventually, it came back to me. (Best Buy. We were talking about Best Buy...)
  7. You realize that finding drivers you trust is of lasting importance.
    Uber's pretty scary, huh? (I still take it. But yeah. A little scary.)
  8. You understand that you are tougher than you think you are.