The middle aged couple just didn’t realize I was already stopped. Once they hit the trailer hitch of my big 85 Blazer, their car went up under mine just a bit and damaged their hood, but did no harm at all to my truck. The impact was just hard enough that the baseball cap on my head ended up on the dash in front of my steering wheel. We both got out and checked on each other; we both felt fine; we exchanged information and moved on. I was on my way to the Jackson Mall to look for a gift for M. I parked, walked in, and as I strolled along the second floor, I blacked out and crumbled to the floor. The same couple that hit me awakened me there. I don’t know how long I was there or how many people passed by – surely not many. They suggested an ambulance, and I insisted I was fine and drove away to find M in a bible study. We saw a doctor soon, and he prescribed muscle relaxers. I’ve never been the same since that day.
I returned to the doctor a week or so later complaining of a strange twitch of the leg and shoulder when I relaxed in bed for the night. After some questions, he explained that he couldn’t do anything about it, asked how long we had been married, and suggested that I convince her it was sexy. Because, “You’re just going to have live with that.” His suggestion never worked, despite my best efforts.
We weren’t even married yet. She still married me in spite of my freakish twitch, but I don’t think she ever found anything attractive about it. Little did I know in 1994 that this twitch would continue and worsen for the next two decades. I never sued, because I’m really not into that, (Don’t say it…) and because I found out one of my law professors routinely represented the couple on other matters and a case involving one of my professors seemed ill advised at the time.
M and I took a vacation to the Smoky Mountains that year with my family, and I graduated from law school. It is truly amazing how anticlimactic a thing can turn out to be when you accomplish something you’ve been striving toward most of your life. That was the case with graduation. Not much different than prior graduations – just another mile marker with other goals still in the headlights. The end of law school may be anticlimactic because of the impending bar exam. Now allow me to explain here, that the “bar” exam is not a reference to the drinking habits of lawyers. In pretty much any courtroom there is a short, waist high barrier between the audience seats and the front of the courtroom where the judge and jury sit. That small wall is called the “bar.” When you pass the bar exam, you become licensed to walk past that bar freely, and practice law. Just an FYI. No charge.
I passed the Mississippi Bar and M and I moved to Gulfport, Mississippi to live in an old house, about a block off the beach, owned by one of my law school professors. The professor, by then, was on the Mississippi Court of Appeals, and I was privileged to call her a friend. She was also the person who introduced me to Justice Antonin Scalia at a breakfast, and more importantly, she helped me secure my first job – at the firm of a friend of hers in Gulfport.
At this point it was 1995, I was 25, had done some traveling, was married, licensed, and freshly ordained as a deacon at First Baptist Church of Gulfport. I felt like I had arrived at my destination. As any spy would tell you though, things are rarely what they seem.
Hurricanes – both figurative and literal – were on the way.