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Day 13: Sometimes I Dream in Farsi

I'm beat! I ended up driving 9 hours today by myself. All I have to say is thank God for adaptive cruise control. That saved me from joint pains, but it also led to us getting a ticket. I was in the middle of explaining something to my cousin about how to be diplomatic and respectful to her professors, when I got a chance to demonstrate how that would come about with a police officer.

At first, I didn't know why we were being pulled over. He pointed to a sign next to us and it said 50 mph, but the GPS was listing 70. Apparently, it was road construction. I felt really bad. I didn't even notice. I mean, it must have just been there right where the cop was standing to pull folks over.

The officer asked us where we were going, and I described the road trip, that it was a new car, and we were trying to hit Indiana. I didn't think anything would happen, but he said I was going too fast and he was going to give me a ticket. Then it took him about 30 minutes to give us one, because he kept coming back to check the registration, which was literally 12 hours old. I suppose it wasn't even in the system. No idea.

We got the ticket and headed off. I thought it sucked, because the last time I got a ticket was in Boulder, Colorado after September 11, 2001. A cop pulled me over for failure to turn into the nearest lane when making a right turn. I'd never seen anyone do that going into the Whole Foods, so I asked him if he was pulling everyone over or just me.

"Just you, today," he said.

I didn't argue with him after that.

This incident tonight didn't seem like it was racial profiling, but then I saw my cousin all worried and upset. I pulled over and she started tearing up, worrying they were going to take me away. Apparently, the last time she was pulled over four years ago, her boyfriend was taken in for a DUI, even though he passed the sobriety tests. They just booked him anyway. She said it was race related, and I got it. Then she started in on how this situation was the same.

"You told him you haven't had a ticket in 15 years!" she said and paced in the parking lot of the Service Plaza in Ohio a few miles from where we were pulled over.

"Well," I said. "It's actually been 17 years."

"I'm saying!" she shouted.

Then she went into how she was worried they were going to take me away. I gave her a hug and said not to worry. "No one's taking me away," I laughed. "I did nothing."

I got it though. It was like when my dad did the sit-in at the barbershop. It can be scary to come from racist incidents with authority figures multiple times and then face another incident.

"If we were Rob and Deborah, homie would have just let us go. But who gives a person who hasnt had a ticket for 17 years with a brand new car a speeding ticket, when clearly everyone is driving faster than 50 miles per hour!"

I couldn't argue with her. We had set the cruise control to 50 after being pulled over, and then trucks were passing us going 70. So, the cop's interest in seeing my license and digging had to be about the new car. Meina thought the same.

"He thought we stole the car."

"Maybe," I said.

"And look at all these plates!" Meina shouted again and pointed at all the different plates from different states to debunk my thoughts that it might have been our New York plates.

"Well," I said. "Nothing we can do about it."

Meina shook her head and paced a bit more.

"Maybe we need to sage the car and you," I said.

"Yes," she said. "Do it!"

I lit some white mountain sage I had in my trunk and then burned it around the car and Meina. Then we headed back on the road. I downloaded Paul Coehlo's Alchemist as an Audiobook and figured that would brighten the mood. Pretty soon, we were in Jeremy Irons' sonorous warmth as he read about omens and the soul of the world -- all the way to get us to Indiana.

Tomorrow, we visit the elementary school I went to as a kid. I wonder what it'll be like. My dad said to visit the turtle in a sandbox I played with as a kid. I wonder if it's still there.

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