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After my son’s school program last week I ended up chatting with a man who has just been hurled off of the same cliff I was 20 months ago. Our conversation started innocuously enough when he saw me taking a picture with my phone and asked how I liked my Droid. He’d been thinking about a smart phone, but was looking for one really good reason to justify getting one. As a policeman who spends 12 hours a day in a car with a laptop at his side, I don’t happen to think he would really benefit from one. I told him that when I break it down to wants and needs my Droid, my constant companion, is really nothing more than a want that I caved in to when I no longer had someone to tell me no. He was amused at the idea and seemed to still be looking for permission to…oh, I don’t know…want something.

I told him that my Droid was not my first freedom purchase. Twelve days after my husband left I traded my GMC Acadia (because I must be the only person in America that hates this vehicle). I’d gone to the dealership looking for a minivan because I had to do the responsible mom thing. I was just minutes away from signing on a used Toyota Sienna that smelled like french fries, when the clouds parted and a sunbeam shown down on the prettiest Jeep Wrangler I’d ever seen.

“I want that car,” I told the dealer. And he did his best to talk me out of it, as did my husband when he came to sign the paperwork. I owned the Acadia jointly with my husband (which was the official impetus for the trade). I pointed out that it was 4 doors, it seated 5 and there were only 4 of us now. There was plenty of room in the back for hauling dogs, luggage, or sports gear, and the removable top was hard so I didn’t have to worry about climate control. Besides, I only needed his permission to trade the old car, not for the new one I was purchasing on my own. And also, sometimes, “because I want,” really is all the reason that is needed.

I told OfficerBummedout that the Jeep was instrumental in exploring my new world and I put 50k miles on it last year. This idea excited him. He said he just realized the night before that there was really no reason he couldn’t go ahead and buy that little sports car he’d always wanted now.

It has been six weeks since his wife told him to move out. Though he stood tall with broad shoulders and the same, perfectly chiseled non-expression I’ve seen on every single officer who’s ever written me a ticket, I found it hard to reconcile his outward picture of strength with the pain I know he is in. He said he still had so many questions and asked if he could pick my brain. As it turned out, he had only one question and did not realize he was asking it many different ways. The one he loves does not love him. His family is broken. He has to visit his children. He wanted to know if life would go on.

I assured him it already is.

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