After the festival panic fiasco and a short birthday stop, I headed down to Joshua Treee. It was the middle of the summer and hot as hell. We got there in the middle of the night. I’d never been there before. We parked the car somewhere and watched the sun come up over the whimsical looking trees.
I also had Totoro with me, he loved it:
We made our way down to Arizona and stayed with a few friends, and then finally headed off to the UFO festival.
We were unexpectedly halted in our attempt to get into Roswell.
The road ahead was blocked off. We had to pull off to the side of the road where we were stopped by a large group of Homeland Security guys holding large guns. It was unsettling in and of itself.
A man asked through the window if we had any illegal immigrants in the vehicle, to which I said I didn’t. He then asked if they could search my car. Taken aback a bit, I declined.
“Pull into space number one, ma’am,” was his reply.
So I did, because who’s going to argue with a group of tough looking armed men in the middle of the desert in the middle of the night during a thunder and lightning storm? No one, that’s who! (Okay, maybe there are some people who would, but I am not one of them, so there)
They had us get out of the car, and then they proceeded to take everything out of my car and search it. Five times. While I sat on a cockroach infested bench with five men holding very large rifles surrounded me.
When they didn’t find anything, they brought out a dog. A dog.
Because I have the best luck ever, the dog immediately began barking it’s head off. Joy.
After much more searching, they found an empty marijuana pipe in the car. It wasn’t mine. I don’t smoke pot. As of right now I think it’s been seven years since I smoked. It gives me horrible paranoia and panic attacks. And I’ve been taken to the ER twice in high school after smoking pot. The pipe was my friends, and I had no idea it was in the car.
I immediately started internally freaking out. What were they going to do? Send me to prison? Handcuff me?
All of these thoughts began flooding me as I imagined the worst.
They didn’t do anything but scare the hell out of me, make us throw away the pipe, and then let us go after giving us a very stern talking to about how if there had been any marijuana in the car “we would have sent you to federal jail.”
It was scary at the time, but I’ve found myself reliving this moment for years to come… It made a big impact on me for whatever reason, and I feel like I have to include it in the story of my panic disorder. It happened right around my panic disorder was really starting to come to the surface, and was one of those things that just made me feel completely unsafe, and a little bit more untrusting of the world (although of course it could have gone much worse).
But we drove away from that homeland security checkpoint, and into a whole new kind of weird and terrifying which was Roswell, NM. I wasn’t prepared for the experiences I had there, and it was pretty weird, and kind of scary most of the time. But I’ll write about that in the next installment.