My mom and her husband were going the same way I was, so we decided to loosely follow each other and get pizza together a couple hundred miles down the road. I left her house first and hurried to get ahead of them so I didn’t fall too far behind when I stopped to get gas. Except that I went the wrong way, and when you go the wrong way, the road runs into a military base. I saw it and turned around a quarter mile or so away.
My mom called: “We’re out on the highway and we don’t see you.”
“I went the wrong way. Now I’m behind you.”
I go the wrong way a lot, and I still mix up right and left.
Then She called and I got lost in conversation, speeding a little to catch up with my mom and her husband. Speeding in this area’s a pretty safe bet, because there’s just one state trooper who patrols a long stretch of highway. Just as I was hoping out loud that I wouldn’t run into him, he passed me and pulled a U turn behind me. Shit.
He pulled me over and there was an unmarked car behind him. What the heck was a second cop car doing all the way out there? I got out my license, registration, etc., and waited. I waited a long time. Finally the cop came up and I gave him my stuff and apologized for speeding. “I was trying to catch up to my mom,” I explained.
“Really,” he said, and it wasn’t a question. He leaned into my open window a little with his gun half drawn, looked back into the van. “How many people do you have in the vehicle, ma’am?”
“Just me and the dog.”
“I see. Ma’am, I’m just trying to understand… are you under the influence of any drugs?”
“No.” I looked behind me in the van. I didn’t see any other people, did he?
“Ma’am, do you have any mental disorders?”
“Any bipolar, schizophrenia, anything like that?”
“Are you under a doctors care for any condition at all?”
“No.” I would normally do like my little sister taught me and explain to the guy about my fourth and fourteenth amendment rights and tell him to write me a citation or arrest me if I’d committed a violation, but he was still crouching and glancing around with his gun half drawn and I thought any assertation of my rights might cause him to pull me from the car and taser me or something.
“Well, why did you drive towards the base and then turn around.”
Oooooh, that explained it. Kind of. “I turned the wrong way. When I realised I was going the wrong way, I turned around.”
“Why did you go the wrong way?”
“Well I didn’t do it on purpose.”
“You don’t just go the wrong way by accident. How would that happen?”
“Um, I go the wrong way all the time. I get lost everywhere I go. Really.”
“Ma’am… I’m just trying to understand… do you have any mental disorders?”
After a while he told me to sit tight, but he would probably be taking me to the base for the military to interrogate me. What the hell? Alaska’s own detention camp for the dyslexic?
He went back to the second cop car and consulted with a bunch of military guys. Oh shit. I called my mom. “Um, mom, you really need to turn around, they think I’m some kind of terrorist with psychiatric disorders on narcotics and they don’t believe me.”
The cop came back.
“Do you live at this address here on your ID?”
“Sort of. I get my mail there. I mean, it would be hard to live in a PO Box, right?”
“Ma’am, do you live in this vehicle.”
“No.” Hey, I don’t.
“Where exactly do you live, ma’am.”
“Up the river a little from The Village.”
“Uh huh. So you’re saying you live in a boat, ma’am?”
“No, I live in a cabin.”
“Oh, so you need a boat to get there.”
“And what are you doing here?”
“I’m trying to follow my mother south.”
“And where is she, your mother?”
“Um, I just called her she’s coming back.”
“Right. Now look at these two names, ma’am. Which one is yours?” He held up my registration and my license, which are indeed in my old name and my new name.
“Well, the old name used to be my name and I changed it to the new name.”
“You just… changed your name?”
“Because I wanted to.”
“You just wanted to, so you did?”
“Ma’am… I’m just trying to understand… are you on drugs?”
He told me to sit tight again and repeated the part about taking me to the military, and then he yelled back to the military guys that my mother was coming and not to shoot her.
When my mom pulled up on the other side of the road he crossed it to talk to her. I could hear them between cars.
“Hi,” she said, “My name is Tara’s Mom, and I live at 123 Xyz St in Crazyville Alaska. I’m the such-and-such there? And my daughter, Tara-”
“Ma’am,” he said, “is this your biological daughter?”
“I’m just trying to understand, ma’am, you’re saying that you physically gave birth to that woman over there?”
Well thank Goddess I wasn’t adopted or c-sectioned or something. It would be funny if I weren’t so scared of being hauled off to some podunk Alaskan Guantanamo Bay.
Possum, of course, is my magical fairy godmother, so I sent him a quick text message. And, just thirty seconds later, the cop announced that he was handing me over to my mother.
She came over to my window and whispered. “He asked where you lived, and I didn’t know what to tell him, so I said you used to live with me but you just bought land out on the river.”
“Did he ask you if that meant I lived in a boat?”
“No, but he asked for the name of the river, and when I told him he was like, That’s what she told me too!!!”
In the rearview mirror the cop and military guys were standing around staring at us. “Mom, I think you’re supposed to be yelling at me.”
A couple hundred miles later we had really good pizza. So good and glutenfull that I got sick.
Then I picked up some hitchikers from the Czech Republic, and they told me about the revolution they had there. It was mostly peaceful, they said. One day everyone started dancing in the streets and refusing to work for the communists, and then all the communists became democrats.
They were looking for a campground, so I dropped them off at one I know and shone the headlights while they set up their tent in the rainy darkness.
Then I had to drive through Wasilla. Wasilla has got to be the most secure place in the country right now. The streets were practically lined with undercover cars. They must have shipped a fleet of them up here. What the hell, Sarah Palin? I wanted to take pictures for all you politically minded readers, but it was dark and I didn’t want them to think I was a terrorist again.