So I’m a changed girl. It’s true what they say, people and circumstances can and will change you. Situations that we place ourselves in allows us to encounter beings of another kind. These encounters mold who we are. They captivate our being with just one word or maybe a simple gesture, and POOF, our world is changed. We become slightly different.
Within seconds of getting my DUI (which recently has been dropped down to a reckless driving charge..another story for another time), I met people who with a look, a sentence, or just a simple vibe, altered who I was and how I thought. I went from being an outsider looking in to actually wearing the shoes and walking the path. From the moment the cuffs were placed on me and I sat in the backseat of that squad car, I had become one of “them”. My inner dialogue was pretty calm. I knew I was guilty and the fact that after multiple times of doing what I was caught doing without getting caught, I was resigned to the idea of just taking whatever punishment was going to be dished out. I was laughing at my self because I knew I had gotten away so many times before but yet time and time again here I was pushing my luck. Through out the entire time while heading back to the station I stayed relatively quiet and calm. I had seen so many shows, like Cops or Caught on Camera, where individuals get rowdy and rambunctious, trying to kick out windows and cursing at the officers, and I always thought… “Well, who put you there? Who’s fault is it? Not theirs! They’re doing their job!” Officer Good Heart was a doll. I don’t know if it’s because the moment he pulled me over I was cooperative and respectful or just because he was a good soul, but he definitely set the tone for rest of my ordeal and that is for sure. It wasn’t until we got into booking that it all hit me… the shots, the beers, and the realization of what the future was going to bring. I was cold and there was no way of warming up for I was in a tank top and a long hippie skirt. The inside of the booking station was depressing. made up of just cement blocks painted grey and cold to the touch. Officer Good Heart sat me down in a grey plastic chair that sat at the end of a long grey table. I picked up on the running theme in this place. Grey. Cold. Depression. On the table sat the breathalyzer, a clip board with paperwork on it, and a couple zip lock bags. I agreed to the breathalyzer because again.. why was I going to fight it? He and I both knew I was intoxicated. So there I blew and his shock was apparent. “Ma’m I don’t know how it is that you passed the roadside tests and are coherently speaking to me. You just blew almost 3 times the legal limit. With your size you should be passed out in the corner.” He didn’t say this in a condescending manner, not rude, or angry. He said it like he was concerned. As if he actually cared. The amazing thing with this officer is that I never NOT looked into his eyes when he spoke to me. His eyes were deep blue pools of warmth. I fell into them every time and never wanted to get out. He wasn’t handsome by any means. He was in his late 40’s and wore a tire around his belly and acne scars on his cheeks. He looked as if he spent way too much time drinking ventie caramel frappaccinos and wasn’t ashamed to admit to having a sweet tooth. But still those eyes were kind and so when I heard him say this comment while at the same time looking back into those big blue eyes, I felt a ping. I actually felt like I had let this stranger down. I remember my initial reaction to his comment and thinking to myself, “Well that’s because I’ve got a high tolerance. I’m a girl who can handle her booze.” But then thought better of it. Maybe that’s not something to be so nonchalant about.
Next up were the zip lock bags. “M’am, I’m going to need you to remove every piece of jewelry you have on your person and place them right in here.” I did what I was told. I took off my earrings, my necklace, my bracelet, rings, and finally my belly ring. I hadn’t taken out my belly ring in ages. I didn’t even know how long ago was the last time I had removed it. When I slipped it out and placed it in that bag, I teared up. That was when I lost my calm demeanor and went full on “blubbering like a baby” mode. Anyone that knows me, KNOWS that unless it’s a reallllllly sad movie or a bad ass book, I DO NOT cry. Inside I was yelling at myself, “Look at you! Wipe those tears away! Suck it the fuck UP!” But that simple gesture of me taking out my belly ring made me feel completely vulnerable and naked. He grabbed the clip board and began asking me basic questions. Throughout the entire process I was sobbing. I didn’t stop. It was like now the floodgates were open and there was nothing anyone could do to stop it… Except of course Officer Good Heart.
All the questions were over and it was now time to get my fingerprints and that infamous mugshot that would be forever lurking for anyone to see. I was still crying. My cries weren’t that of a beautiful movie scarlet where my tears just flowed down my cheeks, yet I stayed pristine. No. I was gasping for air like a child throwing a tantrum. Boogers were flowing so quick, no amount of tissues handed to me by the officers would put an end to them. I’m sure that by looking at my face you wouldn’t have been able to pin point where the tears ended and the boogers began. Officer Good Heart takes me to where my photo was to be taken and while we’re walking he says to me, “Hey. It’s OooKaaay. It’s not like you’re in here for murder. Think about it. In a few hours you’ll be outta here. You’ll be ok. I promise.” I simply nodded my head back at him but inside those words had meant the world to me. The fact that he wasn’t cold and demeaning about the entire situation was the most touching thing that could have happened to me that night. His words were comforting and almost supportive. Not supportive in the way that he condoned what I was in there for but supportive in the way that truly led me to believe that everything WOULD be alright. It wouldn’t be for another 14 hours later that I would realize not even the friend who had bailed me out of jail would be this kind to me. She who barely talked to me on the ride back to pick up my car from the impound, and when she did speak, the only words that came out of her mouth were condescending and belittling. A tone which not even my mother took with me once she found out about had happened. But that story too is for another time. So there I stood in front of the blue screen with his words echoing in my ear. I had stopped crying and had come to realize only seconds before the picture was taken. “You’ll be ok. I promise.” is what I heard in my head and SNAP..a flash of white light and presto my mugshot had been archived. Officer Good Heart and I parted ways. He gave me a tap on the shoulder and pointed to a holding cell that was wide open, “Just go in there and wait hear for your name. They’ll be calling you in a little bit. Good luck.” he said with a warm smile. I proceeded to walk towards the holding cell, but not before I made sure to say, Thank you.
Later on I would look at my mugshot. I can’t say that I was too disappointed for it captured the overall experience perfectly. If I had to pick a mugshot, I would have definitely picked my own. In my photo there are two tears streaming down, one on each cheek. My nose is a little red but down below lies a slight smirk painted across my lips. My eyes look as if they’ve been crying but there on the surface is a glimmer of hope. I believe the photo captured the exact second I replayed Officer Good Heart’s words in my mind.
When I mentioned that Officer Good Heart had set the tone for how the rest of my dealings with this case would go, I meant it. I feel that if those last few words he uttered before my picture was taken would have never happened, I don’t think I would have carried on with the strength I did. It was like his kind words snapped me out of this negative reality that was swirling around in my head. I am a firm believer in the Law of Attraction and feel like I would have just found myself in a thoughtless cycle of desperation and depression. I would have just given in to the feelings of misery and anger for having put myself in the situation that I did. But ultimately he was right. I had made a mistake, Yes. But had I damaged my life permanently? No, of course not. I hadn’t killed anyone. I hadn’t hurt myself. The worse that could possibly come out of this entire situation was a very healthy learning lesson. I look back on this moment everyday and I think of how grateful I am to have actually gone through all of this. There has been much good that’s emerged from my initial charge of DUI, many experiences and treasures that I will take with me forever, and that would have never happened if it weren’t for this. There are other characters that are waiting to be mentioned. There’s Toothless Tammy, Dirt Ball Joanie, Shawna, and Tamika, who were just a few of my cell mates for those 14 hours I was incarcerated. There’s my DUI School Instructor Andres, a Colombian native who had gone into law enforcement and had been held hostage by the guerrilla for 14 days, and later came to the states to further his career in Criminal Justice. I’ll speak of Judge Handlen, My therapist Mary Sue Jonesie, and even those involved with my community service. Each and every one, making an impact. Each and every one of those characters playing a crucial role in what is to be Natal Galvan’s life. For I am a watcher of people. I soak in my surroundings, every detail, every encounter, nothing goes unnoticed. Nothing happens in vain.