The Last Thing I Want to Do Is Slow Down

Copyrighted by Lorna Tedder. Originally published in Third Degree of Freedom .


There’s an old Sammy Hagar tune on the radio while I’m doing my morning meditative commute to work. I haven’t heard it in ages, which gives me a jolt. Yep, my foot’s heavy on the pedal today and I’m late for work and thinking about the medicine I can’t take until I get to my desk in case it makes me dizzy and how whatever’s wrong with me is at least not boy cooties. I slow down and a truck whizzes past me. A mile up the road, he’s sidelined by flashing blue lights. Oh, yeah, that was in my dream last night, too.

I smile and thank the Universe for the little warnings and synchronicities. I’m so not in the mood right now for another ticket or driving school. I’d managed to avoid speeding tickets for a long time until a year ago during the July 4th weekend when I’d been tooling along on my way to someplace special with the girls and one of them had mentioned the dynamics between their grandparents. Instead of stomping my foot at the thought of what my dad might be harassing my mom about now, my reflexes got the better of me and I stomped the accelerator instead. They started a rule after that: no talking about Grandpa when Mommy’s driving. The cop was a sweetie, though, and promised me I could get through the driving course in about 20 minutes and it would save tons of money on my car insurance. The actual test was easy as pie, as Daddy says, and took only about 20 minutes, but it took about 20 hours of time I didn’t have to get through the computerized, timed test. Ugh ! The girls’ solution was simpler: we don’t discuss Grandpa in the car—at all.

I didn’t even bother to try to talk myself out of a ticket. I’m not that way. I’m not going to flirt my way out of it (too demeaning) or lie about it. I either was or wasn’t speeding. And if I wasn’t speeding, then I’d fight it all the way to the Supreme Court and with letters to the local papers about the injustice of it all. But if I was speeding, then no excuses.

Though twice in the past, I really did have a good excuse. There was the time I was jobless and flat broke and got caught in a speed trap in Laurel Hill doing 54 in what I thought was a 55 zone. Turned out to be a 45 zone, even if the 45 mph sign was hidden by some low-hanging pecan limbs. I always think of that when my boss talks about looking for assignments that are “low-hanging fruit.”

And then in college, when my speedometer chain broke and there was no one else on the road…. I figured, as I told the cop, who wasn’t real sure that “the speedometer broke” was an accurate assessment, that I’d stay with the flow of traffic. So he clocked me at 90mph—catching up with the flow of traffic. I’d really had no idea how fast I was going, but I really was trying to catch up with the only cars on the road so I could gauge my speed by theirs. Seemed logical at the time. The Alabama State Trooper took pity on me and gave me a warning. I got the speedometer fixed a few hours later, but the cop probably still, to this day, considers mine to be one of the best excuses he ever heard.

Flying By Night novel

But seeing the blue lights and remembering the warning dream I’d forgotten brought back other dreams I’d forgotten at this morning’s waking. There was one about the handyman I want to finish the work in my house and how he’s being delayed but he’s the right one. He’s one I can trust. There were others, and I was shown them by name and by face, and they will lie and steal and cut corners. There are others who say they are cheaper or talk a good game, but they’re not right for working with me and it’ll cost me more in the long run. And I’m trusting my instincts, if not the dream. The dream’s just confirmation.

In another dream, two acquaintances I haven’t seen since April were talking. She’s in her late 30’s. He’s in his mid-50’s. They’ve never met. They live 1000 miles apart. They’ve never even heard of the other, but I consider both of them to be completely neurotic. It wasn’t about them but about what they represented to me in the dream. They both spent the whole dream complaining and moping around in each other’s presence. I finally sat them both down and told the woman, “Look, yes, you miss your old friends and pine for them. But it’s not their job to keep you from missing them. The fact that you miss them honors them because they made an impact enough in your life that their absence is felt now.” And to the man, I said, “Stop feeling sorry for yourself. Things are not as hard as you’re making them. They’ve made their choices. If you’re not hearing from old friends, it’s because it’s your choice.” Hmmm, interesting dream about cutting ourselves off and assigning value to relationships.

Other dreams have to do with tending my garden and working on my house. Yeah, easy to figure those out.

And then there’s the blue lights and the Sammy Hagar on the radio and my craving for the open road and the freedom to just go and go fast and free. And then I wake up and realize I have to slow down.


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