I haven’t been driving long. I would say not quite 3 years. I have had 2 accidents in that time. Both incidents were in the early am. Both times, I fell asleep behind the wheel. It’s some scary shit to be woken up in such a violent manner. Those incidents have turned me into a more cautious driver before I even get behind the wheel. Sometimes. Other times, my impatience, and partially my pride, give me a boost of confidence I probably shouldn’t have. Late Tuesday night, going into Wednesday morning, I’m leaving NYC, heading back home to Baltimore. I’m frugal so the first thing I do after punching my address into the GPS is changing the settings to avoid tolls. That of course makes my drive longer. No big deal. So I’m either on the NJ turnpike or the Garden State Parkway and a notification comes up alerting me of a route option that will shave 6 minutes off my total time. I looked at it for a second, thought about declining it but I didn’t. I accept the change, wait for the re-routing to take and that’s when the fun started. This shit had me on some back roads through Jersey. I’m talking NO street lights, no guard rails, very faint dividing center lines. There was a deer crossing sign that made me drop down about 15 mph, which about 30 seconds later I was grateful for because I zoomed pass 2 deer. I’ll never forget the demon eyes produced when my headlights met their pupils. I started to freak out a bit. My freaking out isn’t expressed through panicking, erratic breathing, sweating or anything like that. I laugh. The Killing Joke style of laughter. It’s a little creepy, I’ll admit. “This shit is nutzo” was a recurring thought as I enter and exited bends. It was so dark, I’m pretty sure I was only able to see about 15 feet in front of my car, which would be sufficient if I was doing the posted speed limit. I was waiting for a murderous figure or the bitch from The Ring to be standing in the middle of the road. It was that kind of darkness. So, I’m sort of white knuckling it, eyes darting all over the place, kind of giggling and wondering if I made a mistake hitting that got damn accept box. Pretty sure I was doing around 70 mph. What I am not doing is getting sleepy. Drowsiness is probably clinging onto my rear bumper. I’m not sure how long I was on that series of roads but eventually, I ended up on I-95 (in northern PA). My heart rate dropped. My muscles relaxed. My mind slowed. All bad things, things I don’t need to happen, all things that feel too familiar. Third times the charm is the saying, right? Yeah. I decide to not test that. A combination sigh and ‘fuck yes’ fell out my face when I saw the exit sign for some 24 hour food spots. After I parked my ride, I relaxed and thought about that alert. It was the first time I have received one while already en route. Being the person I am, I played a quick game of what-if. It’s a dark game. I didn’t play it for long.

I woke up around 5 hours later, very thankful to be in that Denny’s parking lot.