The dark places are where the light comes in :: Your emergencies can lead to unimaginable breakthroughs. I dedicate this post to the women who shared that cell with me. To people who tell terrible lies. To folks who struggle against their nightmares. This story unfolded nine years ago on July 15th, 2004. I hate what happened that night, but I’m so grateful for what will be birthed the same day this year. And I know I’m not alone.
Marie* and I planned a girls’ night. I’d been looking for another excuse to let loose and The Breakfast Club, an 80′s dance dive, seemed close to perfect. I picked her up in my little gold Ford and we drove off into the night.
I had $31 in cash. Not much, but enough to buy three Long Island Iced Teas, one Red Stripe and still have a little left to tip the bartenders. We ordered our drinks and sought out a suitable place to spin right round (like a record, baby). Marie nestled in between pink painted walls and a couple of tables.
I set my sights on the stage.
One of several stages, it gave me a triple shot of adrenaline, power, and pulse. As the iced teas worked their magic, a lanky dude attempted to share my limelight. Not looking to hook up, I offered him as cold a shoulder as I could. Marie would never let me leave with a stranger.
That’s the last thing I remember until the handcuffs. And the cop pushing into the backseat of his vehicle.
I guess the first thing I remember is trying frantically to light a cigarette. Somewhere deep in my drunken stupor I realized it’d be my last for a while. The officer would have none of it. Which left me deeply offended.
Ahem. I am old enough to smoke.
I don’t remember much about the ride to the station. I get flashes now and then. Before this evening, I had always thought a backseat with bars terror-inducing. I had no filter that night. I’m sure I mentioned it to my driver.
In-processing, I met a fellow arrestee. I don’t remember her name, race or anything about her. Only her hysteria.
I tried to use this to my advantage. My alcohol-soaked brain schemed. Perhaps if I could calm her down, they’d let me out on good behavior.
Cringe-worthy now, and obviously as brilliant as any other drunken hustle. As soon as I realized it’s fruitlessness, I switched gears entirely.
Contained in a large room with vomit-inducing white lights, and cold, hard chairs, sat all the people who had managed to get themselves arrested that night. Cops and clerks filed paperwork capturing our misdeeds.
“If you keep at it, I’ll have to put you in a cell!”
I don’t remember what I did to make the guard threaten me. Nor do I remember my response. I can see the cell I shared with two other women. Hard women. Women who would have scared me if I were sober.
“Damn girl, what’d you do?” I sensed she was talking to me. I stared up at her blankly.
“Your face is all busted up. And the bandage on your arm.”
She pointed to my elbow and I inspected the band of gauze that surrounded it. I don’t remember being hurt. I don’t remember being bandaged.
“I . . . um. I – don’t know.” I frowned and tried to look unapproachable. In hindsight, that was not the best plan.
I sat in the rubble of that explosive night for years. Eventually submitting to the only logical conclusion. There’s a reason I’m still around. Blogging, for me, has been essential to sorting this out. This isn’t the end, of course. I finished the story on page 003 in my free book, Think Love Create. Right click to save it to your computer (you might not be able to see the entire book before it’s saved).
I could have died. Or killed another person. That night, I thought of nothing but alcohol and cigarettes. I loved no one, least of all myself. And I created massive amounts of destruction. I didn’t know it then, but it marked the origins of my journey toward Shalom. It was, as they say, the epitome of an Aha Moment.
Right now, I am working on a new project that will launch July 15th 2013. It’s called Wild Geese :: Engaging with Children in the Mystery of God. My hope is that it might play a part in changing the way we teach our children about God and spirituality. The way we teach our children about their mistakes and ours. Because the only way I know to move forward in the face of such utter failure is to write a brand new story.
We don’t always know how to love each other. May this be a space to learn.
*That’s not her name.