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Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Near Death Experience

As usual, I was listening to the Star 102.2FM morning show on the way to work. Marc was discussing his "near death experience/realization." Whenever you hear about such things I'm sure you do what I did which is to think back on any near death experience you may have had. So I have decided to share mine.

Some might not think my experience counts as an NDE since there wasn't anything that happened that could have killed me. I didn't dodge a bullet or miss an accident, but I was inches away from death via falling down a mountainside. "Inches from death" seems pretty "near death" to me. Perhaps it was near near-death experience. 

About 12 years ago, I was kinda seeing a guy who worked at Ober Gatlinburg. He also lived near Ober, up on the mountain. One day, he suggested I come by that night, which meant driving up Ski Mountain Road in my little car. Being a fearless teenager, I agreed. That night I told my mom I was going to Rockin' Raceway to play pool with some friends. She said that was fine, told me not to stay out to late, and off I Gatlinburg.
The trip went fine until I got near the top of the mountain and couldn't figure out how to get to the building where he lived. The directions he told me was to turn on a certain road and that road would turn into the drive for his building. So I picked the road I thought and headed up it. The paved road became gravel. Okay, I thought. Some driveways are gravel. I quickly realized this was not where I wanted to be though. With a mountainous drop off on my left and a foot and a half deep ditch on my right backing up (which at 16 I had not quite mastered) was not a risk I wanted to take. I naively assured myself there would be some place ahead where I could safely turn around. The gravel road turned to dirt. I became very nervous. Then...I got stuck. I was stuck on a road on the mountain in the middle of the night, no where near where I was supposed to me. I just knew my car was going to get taken away from me. Not knowing what else to do I figured I was going to have walk back down to a house I had passed (back when the road was still paved) and ask to use their phone to call my mother. I turned off my car, grabbed my stuff, and got out. I shut my car door and then I realized something. It was pitch black and the sounds of the Smoky Mountain night life was all around me. 

Now, when you live in this area you learn some things, like, don't go tromping through bear country in the middle of night without some serious protection. I had none. I stood frozen as the scene of being mauled by a bear played in my head. Recovering from my overly grotesque imagination, I quickly jumped back in the door. I let myself cry for a good bit before pulling myself back together. I knew there was only one thing to do. I had to back down the mountain road. I grabbed a purple crystal that hung on a small chain from my radio knob. I had got it a couple years before at a psychic fair. It was supposed to be a medium to contact my guardian spirit. Laugh if you want. I believed it and either way I needed all the help I could get, I think that's the hardest I have ever prayed in my life. I also promised never to lie to my mom about where I was going (a promise I kept for many, many months after). I turned the car on, flipped on the lights, and got out to survey the road and make my backing up plan. I got back in and, keeping the driver door open, I slowly crept backward, trying to not end  up falling down the mountainside. Occasionally, I would stop to go check the other side of the car and make sure I wasn't about to go in the ditch. After what seemed like an excruciatingly long time, I backed on to the pavement and into the driveway of the house I had planned on walking to. 

If such a thing happened to me at this point in my life, I'm pretty sure I would break down into hysterics as soon as I made it back to the pavement. However, I was young and still crazy so I just smiled, thanked my guardian profusely, Sevier life went on.

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