I love long drives. Something about the open road is tremendously appealing to me, so on Friday when I left for a little mountain town about 2 hours away, I was ecstatic. Freedom was in my grasp!
On the way to this town, there is a huge valley. The highway through it is long and flat for a good 5 miles and speeding is almost irresistable.
(Really, I just want to know how you DON’T speed going through this valley. I’m pretty sure it’s actually impossible.)
Up until recently, they weren’t really regulating the 65mph speed limit. I’ve driven this way countless times, complete with pushing my little Honda to at least 80. That’s a conservative estimate, because I know this trip I was edging 90 miles per hour. I might have an adrenaline problem. In any case, I have never seen a cop in this area until this winter when I went through with some friends. Hmm.
This was in the back of my mind driving up this time, but I thought “Surely it was just a one time thing.”
I went flying down that first hill. There was a car in front of me going the speed limit, which I thought was lame. I mean really? I promptly passed him and at the point where the road starts going up again (right at the edge of that shadow from the first hill) I had hit almost 90. My car, however, is old and has 223K miles on it, and I slowed down for fear of making the rattletrap thing fall apart. My bumper is already duct taped.
(pretty much, this needs to happen)
Well, needless to say, I crested the hill and slowed down to a modest 76 miles an hour. I know this, because I passed a cop.
(I am indeed one of the internet masses that can’t resist a cute cat. You’re welcome)
As soon as I passed him, I knew I was toast. He pulled a u-turn. “Oh f-ck,” I muttered. I slowed down and he caught up with me. I was shaking as I pulled over to the side of the road. Cops always make me nervous. I immediately just pulled out my license, registration and… oh damn. Shit, shit, shit. This cannot be happening.
I couldn’t find my current insurance card.
Let me also clarify that I am the super goody goody who has never gotten a speeding ticket, and hasn’t even gotten a TRAFFIC ticket in 5 years. Yeah. 5 years. And here I am with an expired insurance card.
The cop saunters up to my already-rolled down window. To my surprise I see he is young, ginger, and handsome. “Ma’am, do you know why we pulled you over today?” he drawled, with the sweet tones of a country boy.
My voice was shaking when I replied. “I was speeding?”
“Yes ma’am. Do you know how fast you were going?”
“Um… 70…(seeing the look on his face)…75?”
“Can I have your license, registration, and insurance?”
“Um, well, here’s my license and registration, I’m still looking for my insurance…” I turn away from him to paw through my glove box desperately, as well as the pile of crap I’d already pulled out of it: old resumes, my Owner’s Manual, napkins. “Um I guess this is the most recent one I have,” I finally said in resignation, handing him one from this time last year.
“Okay just sit tight ma’am, I’ll be right back.”
He walks off and I turn right back to my glovebox and continue my desperate pawing. In my head I just know I’m doomed. I am definitely getting the first speeding ticket of my life today. Expired insurance at a speeding stop is pretty much a death knell. I’ve been paying my insurance faithfully every month – where the h-e- double hockey sticks is that damn card? I finally turned back around when he came back to the window.
“Ma’am, I’m going to let you off today with just a warning.”
“Oh my God! Thank you so much!” I was absolutely floored.
“Yeah I saw how nervous you were, you were shaking when I came up to the window. So, just… be more careful, go the speed limit, okay?”
“Yes, sir, I will. I’m so sorry.”
“You have a good day now.”
I rolled up my window. Still shaking, this time in disbelief. Why the hell had he let me off? I could only surmise that it was because I was young and looked quite fetching. I absolutely did not deserve it, and I knew I didn’t deserve it!
My treacherous heart, however, lurched in rebellious glee that I’d gotten away with speeding. (I’d be lying if I didn’t admit that)
It’s funny because I think this instance parallels my current life circumstances. Truthfully? I’ve been getting warnings that I need to slow down. The irony of this is just now hitting me as I type this. I got a warning to slow down. My life has been warning me to slow down. Parallel?
And this is kind of important. When I speed up my life, I lose sight of priorities. I get close to a sobriety birthday and I cut down on meetings instead of increasing them. I drift away from community. I think I’m a bother to them, so I don’t call or stop by. But I keep going, I keep getting faster, because my own rebellious heart jumps in happiness at getting away with so much. I can start a new job, and do spoken word poetry, and work on a 4th step in one program, and do my 12th step in another program, and work on revamping my blog, and look at new career fields, and have two sponsees (that I’ve been almost too tired to give to like I should), and do my 11th step in the morning, and join a new book club.
I’ve been speeding up and trying to escape my life by outrunning it. At that place, it’s only a matter of time before the top blows, I tip back the bottle, and guzzle.
This incident also reminds me of a night just before I got sober, where I got busted drinking by the police on my college campus. I was the oldest in the room… 23 years old. The next oldest was 20. In other words, I was the only legal person there. The cop never checked my ID and let me go. I went back to my room and I knew I had lucked out for some unknown reason. The next morning, I went to my first recovery meeting. A week later, I stopped drinking for good.
So I feel like it was a good reminder of that moment almost 2 years ago. A warning of what will happen if I don’t check myself before I wreck myself. I think it’s lucky, or maybe my Higher Power, that I was on my way to a recovery retreat. I was heading to the exact place I needed to be.
It’s also interesting that all weekend I found myself questioning my alcoholism. Over, and over, and over. “Maybe I’m not really an alcoholic, I mean I didn’t drink as long as these people, and I never got a DUI, and I don’t have a lot of drunk stories, and, and, and.” Differences instead of similarities. Not remembering that I lose control when I take the first drink. I drink to escape, escape, escape. Forgetting that two separate therapists told me to consider going to a 12-step program for it. Forgetting the night I was drunk driving and almost hit someone. The insanity was strong with this one.
I was reminded over and over this weekend why I’m sober and why I belong in recovery. Why I need to slow my life down some and remember my priorities, and as they say, keep first things first.
Considering the circumstances, I’m really lucky I was only let off with a warning.