The Disaster That Brought Me To Phoenix

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The Disaster That Brought Me To Phoenix – Stan Collins

Originally published on October 15, 2018, regarding events of 2015.

I regained consciousness in a puddle of my own blood. I could see out of only my right eye and I feared for the worst. “Where the hell am I?” I was in a daze but managed to stand myself up while dripping blood into the makeshift bowl that I made with my hands. Through one blood-drenched eye, I looked around. There was a lamp with a dull red light on next to me, otherwise, the room was dark. I looked up at an unusually high ceiling and began to regain the ability to think clearly. I realized that I was in my bedroom. I made my way towards the exit and, upon opening the door, was blinded further by the bright afternoon sunlight that poured in through the wall of windows to my immediate right. 

The pain from my unidentified wound began to make its presence known. I staggered forth and turned to a mirror on the wall and froze in disbelief. It took a moment or two to comprehend the sight in front of me. Blood spewed from a point near my left eye in continuous eruptions. Half of my face and all of my partially removed shirt and bare chest were coated in fresh layers of the dark crimson liquid. It was the most terrifying scene I’d ever experienced. The combination of this horrific view of my mangled face and the growing pounding pain that emanated from my skull caused me to lose it. Consumed with agony, I let out an uncontrollable roar. Suddenly, my mind was racing. How did this happen? Am I dying? What do I do now?

Just then, I heard footsteps quickly descending the stairs behind me and to the left. I looked down at the pool of blood in my palms and realized that I was most likely at a disadvantage in whatever danger drew near. Nonetheless, I prepared myself for the worst and turned to face my opponent. In the seconds that followed, I put together both an attack and an escape plan. Fortunately, I needed neither as the advancing steps belonged to my father. The wave of relief that washed over me did nothing to ease the pain and in the next few minutes, I was in the passenger seat of a truck on the way to the emergency room. 

In an effort to stay conscious, I began to piece together the events that led up to this moment to the best of my abilities. This was no easy task. Incomplete images of the night prior flashed through my head. In what I assumed was no particular order, I saw a car wreck, a girl, a party, and a laptop. None of it made any sense. “Think. Think!” I pleaded with myself. I winced in pain with each notch in the road. Every subtle and abrupt movement of the vehicle tested my ability to keep my composure. After some frustrating moments, the reality of what had transpired started to become clear. I had destroyed a car that I couldn’t pay for, I had made a promise that I couldn’t keep, and I had locked myself in a position that I would not be able to escape. 

Suddenly, the stream of blood flowing from a wound in my head didn’t seem so bad. It was undoubtedly the most pressing issue but it would soon prove to be the least of my problems. I found it easier to think backward to recall what happened. Starting with this morning, I began to remember waking up in my bed but fully dressed, taking one step, and then blacking out. Presumably, when I lost consciousness, I fell face forward into a glass desk. The desk remained intact but I was broken. The fact that I still had on my clothes from the night before implied that I probably drank to excess and passed out. With that being said, I had a feeling that the drinking was not for fun but rather a result of some affliction. 

By the time we arrived at the hospital, I had managed to contain the bleeding. We went in and after only a few minutes, were escorted back to a room. The doctor asked questions and I answered them to the best of my knowledge, but my mind was still on piecing together the events of the night. I was devastated when the next clue from last night’s story popped into my head. I had destroyed my most prized possession, a Porsche Boxster S in a small wreck after spinning out in a puddle on an on-ramp. I remembered accelerating slightly to marvel at the beautiful exhaust note that the Boxster emitted and slipping during a slight turn in a puddle. It had not rained in some time which made the existence of the water strange and not something that I would have been looking out for. The car spun a couple of times and went up onto the curb at such an angle that the snapped the rear axle. This was particularly unfortunate because the engine of a Porsche Boxster sits right on top of the rear axle which meant that there were likely severe issues with the very heart of the car. 

This realization was a profoundly sad moment for me which would more than explain why I might have come home and drank myself into a stupor. I imagine that the doctor examining my wounds could probably smell the remnants of an alcohol-soaked night and early morning. He alerted me that I would need stitches, a lot of stitches. He also informed me that it would likely be quite painful. As if I had a choice, I acknowledged this fact and prompted him to begin the procedure. After cleaning the deep gash above my eye, the doctor began to sew me up. It was indeed painful but my mind was too occupied to take notice. 

I thought back to earlier in the previous day. I had been celebrating a job offer in Phoenix, a place that I had recently visited and fallen in love with. I was to leave in a couple of days and stay for at least a month. The nature of my business at the time was that it could be maintained from anywhere so long as I had an internet connection. Not 24 hours ago, I was in the best of moods. I had gotten off the phone with the woman that would become my boss in a few days and promised her that it would be no problem for me to fly out there in a matter of days. The past few months leading up to this point consisted of constant nagging thoughts of escape. I was in a place where I was no longer moving forward, but rather, working to barely cover the cost of my dream car. The ceiling was relatively low in Huntsville, Alabama for what I wanted to do compared to the metropolis of Phoenix. I had finally put myself in a position to advance in life and now that would all surely be ruined. 

An undrivable, unsaleable, wrecked Porsche isn’t worth dick and I still had to pay for it, I thought. What’s more, is that I would certainly not be in any condition to leave town within the next day or so which would mean that the time-sensitive job would surely be off the table. This thought crushed me further. I had been so close to freedom, to adventure, to opportunity, and it had now gone the way of my car. I saw the wrecked Porsche as a timely metaphor for my future, for my life even; and I felt myself falling into a deep state of anguish. 

“Wow, you really banged yourself up good pal,” the doctor attempted to make conversation to take my mind off what he probably assumed was the painful procedure that I was enduring. “Yeah, I guess so,” I muttered weakly. I was in no mood for conversation. I wanted only to wallow; and then hopefully, figure out some sort of solution. As the doctor finished up and presented me with some ointment to apply, I managed to pull myself out of my head. “Now I know you are probably in a lot of pain. I can prescribe you some medication to help with that.” I declined his offer of prescription painkillers. I’ve never been a big fan of pills and I didn’t want to diminish any of my feelings or sensations. Sometimes when bad things happen, it’s best to embrace the pain. That fact that you feel anything at all means that you are alive at least. And mentally, I don’t feel that any good ever comes from running away from feelings whether positive or negative.

My car, goals, finances, and part of my face had been destroyed, but at least I was alive. This thought calmed me down for a brief moment. I realized that I was tired, and exhausted. I needed a shower and a meal, perhaps more sleep. Those would all have to wait however as I had a significant and likely uncomfortable call to make regarding the job. Just as I expected, my boss, while sympathetic, was very clear about the fact that I would not have the job if I was unable to go right then. My speculations became true and my goals were officially crushed. I didn’t want to talk to anyone else and I didn’t want to do anything at all. When I arrived home, I went straight to my room and said nothing. I chalked this day up to a loss and decided to try again the next day.

As it turned out, even my plans to do nothing and merely end the day were thwarted as I could not sleep. Day turned to night and another sunrise quickly approached as I sat up in my bed frustrated from not being able to sleep. After exhausting every tool I thought I had at my disposal, I tried the last thing I could think to do. I prayed. 

“Dear Lord, thank you for all you have given us. Thank you for watching over us and keeping us safe. Thank you for sparing my eye and for the presence of and quick thinking of my father. Lord, I thank you for giving me the energy and ambition to set and achieve significant goals. Thank you for giving me a thirst for knowledge and the means necessary to quench that thirst. I am forever grateful. 

Lord, I am at a loss. I find myself in a situation that seems hopeless. I cannot function in the day nor sleep at night. I don’t know what to do about any of this. I am scared. Please, Lord, help me find my way. In Jesus’ name, we pray, Amen.”

Some days later, I received a letter from the insurance company. I tossed it aside expecting it to bear more bad news. I had spent the past few days applying for jobs that I didn’t want. It wasn’t fun. I wasn’t happy, but I was hopeful. Another day passed, and in an effort to straighten up the filthy environment in which I found myself living, I went to take out the trash. On top of the pile was the unopened letter from State Farm. I placed the trash bag down and opened the letter. It started with a reminder that my Porsche Boxster S had been very severely damaged. It went on to say that the damages were so significant that they were not going to be able to justify paying to get it fixed. 

I didn’t think it possible for my heart to sink any lower. There goes my dream car. It had been the physical manifestation of my prior successes. It was the result of a goal that was set at a time when I didn’t even have a job, much less a plan. That Porsche was the reason that I got up and worked my ass off every morning. And now it was gone.

Overcome with emotion, I dropped the letter along with my head. How did I get here? What could I have done differently? I sat there for five minutes or so, frozen in disbelief. When I came to, I picked the letter back up and continued to read, having braced myself for the worst. 

I read and I read, and eventually, I came to a part that shocked me to my core. I re-read the section several times not believing my eyes. The letter said that because the car was totaled, they were going to pay me what they thought it was worth. This was certainly a step in the right direction but the real kicker was in the next sentence. Essentially, what they found from their research was that the car was worth an amount equal to $5 thousand dollars over what I paid for the vehicle. The final sentence initiated the swiftest and most radical increase in mood that I’d ever experienced. My mind began to race again, this time with productive ideas and potential opportunities. I suddenly was given the often taken-for-granted gift of options. 

I thought long and hard about this new information. I researched other Porsches in the area and actually found a newer and nicer version of my deceased love for a price within my range. I contemplated getting into day trading stocks and cryptocurrency. The cash that I was to receive was enough that I could probably make enough by day trading volatile stocks to survive. Ultimately, I decided that the money would be best used to get back on track with my initial plans. I no longer had a secured job in Phoenix. I didn’t have a place to live or a way to get around in that foreign city. Nonetheless, I decided to call my best friend and ask the question that would forever change the course of our lives. “Hey man, we should be in Arizona right now. You down to make a move?” The next day, we bought one-way tickets to Phoenix and told everyone we knew we were going on vacation and never looked back.

Stan Collins Boyd