Wednesday, December 03, 2003

Someone To Watch Over Me

The most beautiful thing we can experience is the mysterious. It is the source of all true art and science.
- Albert Einstein

Five years ago my husband and I were returning home from a trip to Alburquerque, New Mexico. It is a 10-hour drive so we planned to stop about half way and spend the night at Colorado Springs. We reached the Springs about 6:00 PM and stopped at a restaurant for dinner. This was in the summer so it was still light out and would stay that way for a couple of more hours. At dinner we talked about how we were only about four hours from home, how we still felt good, and how nice it would be to sleep in our own bed that night. That's when we decide we would just keep driving and not spend the night there. So, after dinner we got back in the car and started driving to Limon, Colorado, where we jumped onto I-70.

By the time we reached Limon it was dark and I (the driver) was more tired than I expected to be at that point but knowing I would be sleeping in my own bed that night kept me going. An hour later my husband fell asleep and I drove on with that disconnected, alone feeling I always have when I am driving at night. There is something about driving in the dark surrounded by a cocoon of steel that makes me feel isolated from the rest of the world. The only connection I had with the outside world was the radio. Since we were pretty much in the middle of nowhere radio stations were few and far between and the ones I could find would fade out after a bit.

It was now about 10:00 PM on a Sunday night and there were not many cars on the road. So, I'm traveling along, listening to the station drift in and out on the radio when I decide to find another station. I glance down at the radio and start pushing buttons. I did not realize how long I had my mind and eyes focused on the radio until I saw a blinking red light in the passenger side view mirror out of the corner of my eye, and then saw the red and white blinking lights streaking across the dashboard. Crap, I had a cop car behind me. The second I saw the light I looked up and out the front windshield. My car was heading off the highway at a 25-degree angle. The right front wheel was over the white line designating the edge of the road and about a quarter of the front of the car was in the breakdown lane. "Shitshitshitshitshit!" I could not believe it, I was driving off the highway with a cop car right behind me and I was doing it while speeding. I was in deep, deep, doo-doo.

At this point my mind kind of split in two. Part of it was freaking out, not believing this was happening, while the other part was calmly steering the car back to the highway. I can't explain how fear can coexist with utter calm. I just know that I did such a smooth job of getting the car back onto the highway that I did not wake up my husband. Once I was back on the highway I felt a great sense of relief, which only lasted about a second as I thought about the cop behind me.

I looked in the rear view mirror and saw- nothing. No cop car, no flashing lights, nothing. I looked in my side view mirror-nothing. I looked in the passenger side view mirror again-nothing. I looked behind me over my right shoulder-nothing. I looked over my left shoulder-nothing. I swivelled my head and looked all around me-nothing. No cop car, no other cars, and no lights on or off the highway -nothing.

Now my heart was pounding and I swore out loud, waking up my husband. He asked me what was wrong and I explained what had happened.
"Are you sure you didn't see the reflection from something else?"
"Look around, Honey, there is nothing out here."
He then asked why I did not wake him up sooner. I said I was a little busy at the time and besides, if he had been awake none of this would have happened because he would have been the one to notice I was driving off the highway. He reluctantly agreed with me.

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