I had a brief scare earlier this week when a Pima County Sheriff officer rang my doorbell in the wee hours of the morning. My husband was out for his run and I was busy with the rush of a school day schedule, trying to get the kids fed and clothed and out the door. To preface, I have to tell you a little bit about where we live. You know how people sometimes sarcastically say that they live in the sticks? Well, we actually do. The only difference being that the sticks I see scattered around our house are fallen ocotillo branches left to dry out in the heat of the desert sun. With that scene in your head, I can now tell you that my husband’s runs typically lead him along dusty desert roads, abandoned by all but the occasional coyote, tumbleweed or rattlesnake. Don’t get me wrong. We have company out here in the sticks. We live in a neighborhood that even has paved roads, but beyond the confines of our gated community, there’s very little civilization to speak of for miles. We’re so isolated out here, in fact, that last spring we had a mountain lion take up temporary residence somewhere nearby and spend its early morning hours strolling along in the desert acreage between houses. I tell you all of that to convey to you that when my husband goes out running, it’s a bit different than doing laps around a track.
Which, I don’t mind saying, is why I sometimes worry about his safety. Not only does he have mountain lions and coyotes to contend with, but drivers on these back roads tend to, ahem, exceed the speed limit, let’s just say. So when I watched a sheriff’s vehicle roll to a stop in front of my house so early in the morning while my husband was unaccounted for, I worried. A lot.
My heart was already racing with what ifs by the time the officer made it up the walk and rang our doorbell. Our yappy little dog responded with—surprise!—obnoxious yapping that did nothing to calm my quickly frazzling nerves. “Take the dog outside,” I said to my fifteen-year-old daughter. And, because I was stressed out, almost immediately I said it again, only it came out more urgent and panicky the second time around.
“I am,” my daughter said. Looking back, it occurs to me that she looked at me very oddly. Wary, almost. But she did as she was told.
Not knowing what news the officer was about to deliver, I stepped outside so that the kids couldn’t hear. As it turns out, the officer was responding to a 911 call that was reported to have been placed within seventeen meters of my house. I still don’t know the origin of that call, but I was just relieved that the reason for the officer’s visit had nothing to do with the safety of my husband. I thanked him and he apologized for the trouble and he was on his way. It was only after I stepped back into the house that I came to understand why my daughter had looked at me so suspiciously.
“I thought you did something illegal,” she said. “I thought that’s why you were acting so weird.”
For the record, I was acting panicked, not weird. But what strikes me is that my daughter suspected even for a fraction of a second that I had done something that warrant a visit from an officer sworn to uphold the law. Last time I checked, we had neither a marijuana crop nor sweatshop hidden in our backyard. No human trafficking rings or meth labs around here either. In fact, the most interesting thing to come out of my kitchen is usually a batch of granola bars or chocolate chip cookies. Illicit, right?
I suppose I could take it as a compliment that she thinks that somehow in addition to swimming lessons and Bible study and grocery shopping and errands and blog posts and bill paying I somehow have time to lead a secret criminal life, too. Wow. Now that would be a supermom. I think I’ll stick to my chocolate chip cookies, though. At least for now.