“Hi Ben, this is Terry from American Family Insurance. There’s been a legal action filed for that accident in ’08. Do you remember that?”

Oh, Terry, I remember. I remember the ’01 Chevrolet Cavalier in yellow.

When it was mine, many people tried to name it – the banana, mellow yellow, sunflower – but I never tried; I knew it was too cool for a name, even a nickname. I coated my acne-afflicted skin in makeup, indulged in $50 haircuts, hid in vintage outfits, got lost in craigslist, climbed in that car and saw through the windshield.

Then a man ran a red light in his blue car, I ran a green light in my yellow car, the colors ran together. We got out. It was not a beautiful day in the neighborhood, but this neighborhood didn’t have beautiful days. We stood around waiting for the policeman, locked in the walk-in freezer of a Wisconsin winter; me shuddering in a thin sweater which I had decided that morning was too incredible to be concealed by a coat, him making conversation instead of making amends. When the policeman arrived an hour later, he asked questions, we answered them. There was only one Witness, and He was respectfully silent.

The insurance company determined that the car was a Total Loss, which I could have told them before the accident. It always needed repairs, maintenance, attention.

“…Do you remember that?”

Oh, Terry, I remember. The car’s grill hangs on my wall, the only piece intact, set apart from the wreckage. Blazing eagle beak yellow, with the Chevrolet cross in the middle.

Kids on the Block

This post and its comments were originally published on Transformation City Church’s blog.


People are looking at us. Not us. Me. I look suspicious. A white man driving a car full of black kids. In the most segregated city in the country. But statistics are made by people; statistics do not make people.

The girl in the front seat? A few nights ago she was crying on our front steps. I wondered how long she’d been sitting there. Kevin asked her what was wrong. Megan sat down and the girl pressed into her, eyes squeezed shut, as if wanting to be absorbed. Someone else’s mother called out. The girl walked over to her. “She just can’t find her mama,” the mother said.

The boy in the back seat? The other night he was holding his baby sister. “’Sup Ben?” He nodded, implying that holding a baby was now cool, because he was doing it. This is the same boy who recently rode his bike right in front of my car without looking. I imagined hitting him, holding his little body in the road, saying, No. No. No.

The boy sitting next to him? A couple days ago he asked, “Could you bring out the hoop?” I followed him to the garage, unlocked it, reached for the handle to lift up the door and stopped. “I’ve got to get a glove to lift it up,” I said, remembering how thin and sharp the handle is. “It’s fine, I’ve got it,” he said, gripping the handle and yanking upward. “You’ve got thick skin.” I told him. He smiled and held up his hand. It was bleeding.

“Does everyone have on their seatbelts?” I ask, checking the rear view mirror. I don’t see any kids. I lower the mirror and three little faces look back. While they are in my car I will keep them safe.