Accidental Community & The Death of Clarissa

I believe the story goes that when I got married nine years ago, the hubster and I were such cheapskates in our wedding planning that my mom rewarded us by giving us a hand-me-down car. It was a Jeep Grand Cherokee, but since we were about to drive across the country to our new home in Texas, we traded my brother for his 2001 Ford Focus ZX3.

I named her Clarissa, after Virginia Woolf’s Clarissa Dalloway, because one of my favorite lines in all of literature is the simplicity of the last line of Mrs. Dalloway: “For there she was.”

Clarissa was a black, two-door hatchback and–miraculously, some might think–it fit my 6’6” husband quite well. (Believe it or not, the old Ford Focus hatchbacks had more head- and leg-room than a lot of big SUVs these days. Trust me, we’ve been car hunting recently.)

Last fall, we bit the bullet and became a two-car family. And we started parking Clarissa out on the street in our quiet, small-town neighborhood.

About 10 pm one night a few weeks ago, while sitting in our living room, we suddenly heard a bunch of revving and then a crash. A very loud crash.

Did I say our neighborhood was quiet?


Poor Clarissa was hit by an intoxicated driver.

Total loss.

As it turns out, I'm grateful Clarissa was hit 
because it could have been a lot worse.

Children play outside in our neighborhood, even late at night during the summer time; more expensive vehicles park in our neighborhood; and right near Clarissa was a large tree and, well, our house. It could have been so much worse–for the driver and for our neighborhood.

I’m also grateful because I got to experience, once again, a little dose of community. 

One of our neighbors came out right away to help out when it became obvious that the driver of the vehicle was intoxicated, to wait with my husband until the cops could arrive. (I was inside on the phone with 911.)

I got to meet some of our police force, all of whom were professional, thorough, and courteous, despite a situation that got somewhat out of control. (I won’t go into detail here, but the initial responders did end up calling for backup.)

Once everything was back under control and my husband turned in his witness report, other neighbors came over to check on us. They offered cars if we needed them. I got a text from another neighbor making sure we were okay. And then another car offer.

Sure, I'm sad we lost our dear friend.

We’ve driven her across the country twice; she’s been loaded up with lumber, furniture, and hay bales; she carried our little bean home from the hospital.

But we’re already eyeing a 1999 stationwagon that plays cassettes. (You think I’m joking.)

We will, however, start parking in our driveway.


8 comments on “Accidental Community & The Death of Clarissa

  1. Ashley says:

    So, this made me choke up a little…

  2. Rebecca says:

    Whoa. Glad everyone’s ok! When I read the “situation that got somewhat out of control” line, “bad boys bad boys, whatcha gonna do” started going through my head 😉

    • elizabeth says:

      You’re telling me! It felt like life was an episode of COPS there for a few minutes. All is well now, and like I said, it could have been much worse. We ended up getting more for the car from insurance than we expected it to be worth, so that was a pleasant surprise!

  3. Mom says:

    Quite a tribute to Clarissa!!!!

  4. Christinygren67 says:

    We had a very similar experience just 2 months ago, with the same results… neighbors with which we had very casual interactions prior to the crash all came out of their houses to check if we (and the driver) were ok. It has made me resolve to be more intentional about meeting my new neighbors when we move (which will be soon!) instead of waiting 10 years for an inattentive driver to bring us together!

    • Texas Schmexas says:

      It’s sad that it often takes these experiences to meet our neighbors! Glad everything ended up okay in your case, too–and good luck meeting the new neighbors. 🙂

      Thanks for stopping by and leaving a comment.


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