Those were some of the last words Todd said to me before bed last night and it was exactly what I needed to hear. Yesterday was not one of my best days in recent history.
I woke up early with Todd as usual and we both got ready for the day. When he left for work I left for campus to go buy one of my books. I arrived on campus around 9:45 and went to the bookstore to buy my book. Then I walked over to the Starbucks that is attached to my building, bought a chai tea and settled into a leather chair to read. I have a tendency to block everything out when I am reading, so it was not until a crack of thunder broke my concentration that I realized how long I had been sitting there reading. My empty tea-cup sat beside me, the last sip long ago swallowed and I looked at my watch, 2:00.
My gut reaction, Shit 2:00! Where did the day go?! Then I looked outside to see nothing but ominous storms clouds closing in. Double shit! I have to get home to Lucy.
I packed all my belongings back into my bag, threw away my tea-cup and headed for the car. As I approached my car I saw a piece of paper on the wind shield, when I got closer I saw the words parking citation (or maybe it said ticket, honestly now I cannot remember).
Triple shit. what is this for? I have a sticker and I am in the appropriate lot.. Then I realized this was not my car. Oh thank goodness. The car looked just like mine but in fact my car was parked one more row back.
So I get in my car and head home hoping to beat the storm. I was hoping to be able to let Lucy out without her having to get all wet but also I hate driving in the rain. Driving in the rain, especially a bad storm is a huge anxiety trigger for me. I am able to do it but it puts me hugely on edge.
I get to the toll road and merge into traffic and after a minute or two I notice there seems to be an unusually high number of police cars on the road. I assume something must be going on, maybe an accident or something and keep driving. After I paid the first toll I am trying to merge into traffic and notice there is a police car on the shoulder near where I need to merge. I am able to merge and try to switch lanes again to be in a middle lane but am unable because there is a car right next to me.
I don’t think much else about it and continue driving. As I am going along all I am thinking is how I am such a bad puppy mother leaving Lucy in the crate all day and how it is probably already storming downtown. In the middle of me mentally kicking myself my phone starts to ring, interrupting the Pandora station streaming through my car’s stereo. I reach over and send the call to voice mail and continue on.
Suddenly I notice red and blue flashing lights in my rear-view mirror. I assume I am in the way of this police car and move one lane to the right in order to let it pass me. The car follows me into the right lane. Crap. So I switch lanes again even further to the right, follows me again. Oh yeah, I am definitely getting pulled over. Crum. I pull over to the shoulder, park, turn off my music, roll down my window and wait to be approached. While I am sitting there my mind is racing trying to figure out why I am getting pulled over. There is no way I was speeding, I never speed and if it was about to storm I was probably going 5 under out of fear. The only thing I could think is maybe he saw me pick up my phone to send the call to voice mail and thought I was texting? Wouldn’t that be ironic. Little miss anti-technology gets a ticket for “texting while driving”. I would have argued that one to the end.
The officer walks up and identifies himself and asks for my information. I hand over my license and relevant paperwork, he then proceeds to explain my transgression. He pulled me over because of what happened when I merged into traffic after paying my toll. He informed me that because there was a police car stopped on the shoulder of the road I should have removed myself from the right lane for the safety of the officer. He then said he did see that there was a car next to me making it impossible for me to switch lanes but in that case what I should have done was reduce my speed to half speed when passing the officer.
That makes total sense but the truth is I did not know that was the law. I thanked him for the information and apologized saying I was unaware. I was technically going under the speed limit at the time because I was in the acceleration process at the time trying to merge but my speed was not low enough to keep me out of trouble unfortunately. He walked back to his car for a few minutes and returned with my ticket.
I thanked him for the information again and apologized again and we parted ways. As soon as he walked away I started to cry. I have never cried when being pulled over before. The few times I have been pulled over either I had done nothing wrong therefore had nothing to worry about or I have known what I did wrong and was not upset about being pulled over because I knew I was wrong and the cop was right to pull me over. This to me felt unfair though, which I already know is ridiculous so please save your judgement. My anxiety was stirred up before the officer ever got to me so that is what brought me to tears. Being pulled over was just a physical confirmation of what I was already feeling, you suck Jill. The ride home was awful. I was mad at myself for losing track of time, my anxiety was stirred up by the threatening weather, I felt like a terrible puppy mother and imagined Lucy just sitting there miserable and having to pee. Then I put an officer’s life in danger (in the eyes of the law). I suck. My pity party was brief though because almost as soon as I pulled away from the shoulder it began to down pour.
It was the torrential type of rain that causes a complete white out making it near impossible to see a foot in front of your face. Great, this is my nightmare, I thought. It got me to stop crying though because now I had to be hyper focused on what I was doing. I ended up exiting sooner than I needed to just to be off such a busy road in bad weather. 10 minutes later I was home and amazingly Lucy still loved me and was happy to see me. Dogs are sweet that way.
I let her out and toweled her off when she came back in. Then I set up a blanket and pillow fort. Lucy and I spent the rest of the afternoon cuddling and studying until Todd came home. That helped my mood quite a bit.
When Todd called to let me know he was on his way home later I told him my story. I did my best not to cry but towards the end I couldn’t help myself. I spent most of the afternoon berating myself and I was feeling pretty low. He consoled me and admitted he familiar with that law either. It made me feel a little better to know I wasn’t the only one in the dark but ultimately I know that ignorance of the law is no excuse for breaking it.
Todd arrived home about twenty minutes later. We ate dinner and then the three of us laid in the blanket fort on our pillows and watched New Girl. At the end of the night I had my textbook open but I wasn’t actually reading it, my mind was wandering. I was thinking about the day and still not feeling great about myself and self-doubt was starting to creep in from all sides. Todd was laying next to me starting t0 fall asleep and I asked him if he ever doubted himself when he was in the engineering program. He said Yes and that it was hard work at times but that he knew he would do well. I told him how I was feeling and that the “not good enoughs” were starting to creep back in. Then he looked at me and said If there was anything you were ever meant to do I know for a fact this is it.
That’s all I needed. A little reassurance. A vote of confidence. I am not perfect and sometimes I am really hard on myself. I am just thankful I have someone to remind I am OK when I forget. Another blogger once commented on one of my posts saying that all she could do is try her best everyday and be OK with that. She is right. I knew it then and I know it now. I have to allow myself to make mistakes and be imperfect. I care so much and do my best everyday, that is all I can ask of myself.