Well, I did end up crying on the drive home from Fresno, this time not because I was seized with the poignancy of life, but because I got a speeding ticket.
I'd just spent a sweaty but lovely 45 minutes in the parking lot of a 76 station interviewing blog friend Peter of Plastic Bubble World about his years as a cruise ship dancer, as this is where my so-called circus novel is heading. I pulled back onto the 99 and talked to my sister for a while--using my hands-free device because that's the kind of safe driver I am.
But shortly after hanging up, I saw red and blue lights in my rear view mirror, and soon I was in another parking lot (Burger King this time) having a much less pleasant conversation.
I wouldn't call the CHP officer baby-faced, but he was someone I could easily picture as a mildly trouble-making middle school student. He told me I was going 82 in a 70 zone. He asked why I was shaking. I said because I'd gotten pulled over (third time ever, first for speeding). I thought he was being nice, but now I think he was just wondering if I was on drugs.
We both realized my license was expired--and thank god I finally got around to renewing it last week and had a temp on hand--and he said, "I asked you if the address on your old license was current and you said it was."
"No you didn't," I said, but then I immediately had visions of him smashing his baton into the headlight of my rental car and ominously drawling, Looks like your light's out. "I guess I misunder--"
"Doesn't matter," he interrupted in a way that implied I was getting hysterical, which may have been a possibility. "I need your current address."
When I gave him my L.A. address, I pictured him thinking, Big city folks think the law doesn't apply to them, do they? I'll show 'em.
He gave me directions back to the freeway (which was visible from the parking lot) and I sat in my car and cried and made a note to myself to call the Bakersfield courthouse if I hadn't received a letter by July 1. BECAUSE I AM A GOOD CITIZEN LIKE THAT. It took maybe ten minutes. He sat in his car on the other side of the parking lot the whole time. When I finally pulled out, he pulled out behind me.
I mean, I know speeding is bad. It wasn't his fault I was being a bad driver. But thinking he was a dick about it ("He was kind of a dick," AK assessed later) is my only consolation.
I drove home thinking about how it's good that I got the ticket because I'd been getting too smug about all my good behavior anyway. Then I thought about how the ticket plus traffic school are going to be like $500, and I cried some more. Then I thought about what if I'd been an undocumented immigrant in Arizona; that same scenario would have fucked up my entire life. And I thought about how it's total karma because my dad is amazingly, generously picking up the tab for the majority of our England trip and spoiled brats like me need to pay for something. Then I thought about how I spent two and a half years in therapy to try to stop thinking like that.
I pulled into a Panda Express off the 5 in Valencia and ate two egg rolls and washed the mascara off my face. I'd been starting to look like a truck stop hooker. I felt a little better.
I got home and AK was there to greet me, with the Neil Patrick Harris episode of Glee all cued up. Life was definitely getting better. But when T-Mec finally crawled out from under the bed, I noticed that one side of her face was distinctly larger than the other.
She's at the all-night vet right now, getting her abscess drained. While we were waiting, a couple brought in a stray dog they'd found--a little gray guy with cloudy eyes and no teeth. Very old, said the vet tech who took him away to wait for the humane society.
"Someone's looking for him, I'm sure of it," AK said. "They're like, 'Toothless, where'd you go?'"
"But sometimes things are just very sad," I said. "You can make up a happy ending, but it's probably not true."
T-Mec is a lucky girl, even though she probably won't feel like it with a drain in her face. And I am too, even though I won't feel like it with money draining from my savings account.