So…about 3 or 4 months ago, I had to go have a background check for a job that I worked in early June. I taught at a camp for a friend of mine at her art studio. I considered this background check to be somewhat of a pain in the ass, but I understood completely why it had to be done, and I just wanted to get it out of the way as quickly as possible. First, I went to the little police station in Tucker next to the Wal-Mart, thinking that there would be no wait there. I waited for about 7 minutes while the receptionist finished a personal phone call, for her to tell me that I could not get a background check done at that location, of course. She handed me a pamphlet that had the address of the location where I needed to go. Thankfully, it was not far away, and I knew exactly where it was. When I got there, I had to go through a metal detector scanner thingy. Of course, I set it off. I always do. It was my bracelets this time. When I got upstairs to the Office of Criminal Records, there was no line, so I walked right up to the window and told the lady what I wanted. She said it would be $20 cash or money order and she needed to see my I.D. I handed her a $20 and my driver’s license. She had me fill out some paperwork and told me to have a seat. I thought surely I would be in and out of there in 5 minutes. That did not happen. I waited and waited. I started getting worried. I wondered if there was an outstanding warrant for my arrest that I did not know about. How could that be? Surely I would know about something like that! Wouldn’t I? The lady I handed my paperwork to had disappeared. What if she had gone to get the police? What if I was about to be arrested? I sent a text message to a good friend of mine and let her know where I was-just in case. At least she could pick up The Baby from school if I was….indisposed…..I knew that Mini Me and The Middle Child had a ride home with my mother in law, so I did not worry about them. I had broken a sweat and was about to go into a full-on panic attack when the lady came back to her desk. I looked at the clock for the hundredth time. It had been about 20 minutes! She called me up to her desk. I had to sign some more stuff and she stamped it and handed me this stapled stack of papers and that was it. Okay. I was done. No police. Thank you GOD. I made my way back downstairs and to my car, without looking at the paperwork. I turned on the car and looked at the papers. On the second page, about a quarter page down, it read: “This rap sheet was produced…” THIS RAP SHEET?!! WTF?! I read on. It WAS a RAP SHEET, and I had RAP! (Record of Arrest and Prosecution, YES, DAMMIT! I HAD to GOOGLE IT!) Fuckety- fuck me. Seriously? What the hell? I had only been arrested once, and that was 21 years ago! I thought that was off my record! I kept reading. Oh HELL no, it was not off my record! It was all still there-in black and white-clear as a bell-for me to read. I had forgotten the date! November 12, 1994. Driving under the influence. Misdemeanor. Madison, GA. Narramore, Jennifer Lee. Tears sprung to my eyes fast. It all came back just like it happened yesterday. I turned the car off and sat there and cried for a good 30 minutes. Tears just rolled down my cheeks and I could not get them to stop. I knew that this was not going to be a problem for my friend and my job teaching art. My tears had zero to do with that. In fact, I have had many jobs in those 21 years, and nobody has every said a word about it. I was crying for other things. I was crying for the time. That time in my life was not a good time. It was a very volatile time for me. I was dating the only other significant person in my life besides my husband. The night I got my DUI, he and I had gotten into a fight and I had left in a huff. It’s okay, those of you who know me now and those of you who knew me then–go ahead and cackle 😉 I’m sure you can see this happening quite easily! I ran a stop sign at the end of a hill–sort of. Okay, I really ran it and then tried to compensate. It didn’t work. I went to high school with both of the cops who arrested me. One did not want to arrest me and the other did. They called my mother without my permission. I was not pleased. All the way to the Morgan County Jail, I rode in the backseat but with my elbows propped on the backs of the two front seats, and the three of us chatted. It was all very friendly. I was never handcuffed. I did get the breathalizer when we got to the jail, but there were no mugshots and I don’t think there were even any fingerprints. They let me write a personal check for $700 and let me go home with my mother. I did have to go to court later and had to do community service and DUI School, which I did not complete until the following April. I did not lose my license. During that period of my life, my boyfriend and I lived together in a very toxic relationship. We both cared about each other very much, but we were not good for each other, and we both knew it. There were a series of very dramatic events that ended with us going our separate ways, but I never stopped caring about him, and I like to think that he never stopped caring about me. I don’t mean that in a romantic sense. We had a connection that was very important at that time in both of our lives. We both moved on. And let me tell you (again, if you’ve read another of my posts) about how I met my husband…we sat beside each other at DUI School…..BWAHAHAHA 😉 Seriously-we did. The Hokey Jackson Driver Improvement School in Athens, GA. It was love at first sight. We had to go to DUI School for 2 days. I was so hoping that he would ask for my number before we left the second day. He did. Then, he did not call me for a week. I had basically written him off by then. I went out with him, though, and the rest is history.
I was sitting in the car, tears streaming down my face, recalling all of that in my head. And, thinking about the fact that my former boyfriend had taken his own life a mere 8 months earlier. My husband went to his funeral with me. That, my friends, is a testament to 20 years of marriage. I looked down at my RAP SHEET, and I hugged that thing close to me. I looked up on my phone about how to remove things from your record. It can be done-and it’s cheap. But I am not going to do it. That dumb ol’ DUI is connected to things that are important to me. I kind of like it being there. It’s a reminder of my past and my present. I did not get sober when I got that DUI, but somehow, that thing is also connected to my almost 14 years of sobriety (August 7). “We will not regret the past nor wish to shut the door on it”….. Seeing this DUI in black and white for the first time in 21 years had a very jarring effect on me. I have no regrets. Well, that’s not exactly true. I have plenty of regrets! Don’t we all? My regrets are things like: I should have gone to New York and waited in line for 7 days to see Hamilton ….or I should not have eaten that 3rd cookie last night!…not big regrets about my past. I gave those up a long time ago. I do not wish to shut the door on anything. I put my mini van in reverse and backed slowly out of my parking spot. I wiped my tears away and as I drove out of the parking lot, my shoulders straightened back up. I know I should not even go here, but I’m gonna. I thought about myself and my life and where I’ve been and what I’ve seen and where I might go next. I thought about my tattoos and the Lilly Pulitzer pants I had on (that I got for Christmas), and how I am a walking contradiction, and I laughed out loud. I thought about all of that shit and my Rap Sheet. And I thought and I thought. And I looked at it like this: ALL OF THAT SHIT + RAP SHEET = BADASS ……So….everybody’s gonna just have to live with it. Mama has a rap sheet. Put that in your pipe and smoke it.