On New Year’s Eve I bought a new dress at Target with a Christmas gift card. As I zipped up the grey sheath and listened to the bickering voices of ladies in the next changing room, I examined my reflection in the mirror. I have a nice, slim figure but my face has some odd angles and is speckled with discoloration from acne that – despite my thirty years of life – won’t relent. No one would ever call me model.
Still, I’m not ugly. But maybe people aren’t getting a chance to see me underneath that muddled exterior. I decided to wear makeup more.
When I got home and did my hair – and applied makeup for the first time in a month – I thought about aspirations for the new year. (I’m not one for “resolutions”; I’m much too hard on myself if I fail.) I would like to get a bike and start riding. I rode a bit in high school – just recreationally, nothing serious – and enjoyed it, but hadn’t really since then. I knew it would be a big investment. Even if I found a used road bike, there’s things like pedals and shoes. But I logicked myself into the idea by saying it would be an investment in my health, would get me out of the apartment and away from the TV and internet, and I might make some friends along the way.
Perhaps even some male friends due to my new screen of makeup…
I was looking forward to a NYE party. Well, two parties to be exact. The first was with some longtime friends, and the highlight (in my mind) would be watching the new Doctor Who Christmas special. I was planning to leave that party around ten to head to another with my Bible study. My singles’ study. Where there could be eligible men. Did I mention I was wearing makeup now?
But something unplanned happened on the way. A car accident.
It had snowed a few inches the day before, and the temperature hadn’t risen above eleven degrees since. Maybe it was due to the cold or perhaps all the snowplow drivers were on Christmas vacation, but the roads were a mess and remained mostly unplowed. Or at least not well plowed.
Haven driven on icy roads hundreds of times, I knew what to do. My little sedan ishardly an ideal snow vehicle, but I knew to go slow and be especially cautious whenever turning the steering wheel or touching a pedal. And whenever my car did slip – as nearly every car was doing that day – I knew how to pull out of a skid.
To make a long story short, despite my best attempts to be cautious, the roads were too slick. My car slid out of its lane into other traffic and was hit.
I was fine. The other driver was fine. The cars weren’t that bad. In fact, I couldn’t see any damage to her car other than her license plate being misshapen. But I got a ticket for “careless driving”.
I limped my car home, too cautious to drive another combined 40 miles to the party and back home, kicking myself all the way (which is quite the acrobatic feat while sitting in a driver’s seat). A thousand dollar deductible loomed, plus a fine for the ticket, plus my insurance rates would probably go up.
Oh, and I missed that party that could have been full of eligible men. Bummer.
Gloom settled over me. I had to keep reminding myself that no one was injured, my car was completely fixable, and these things just happen sometimes.
But I just kept thinking about how much money this would end up costing. Even though I keep some in a savings account and claim that it’s for emergencies – just like this – I cringed at the thought of taking it out.
That’s when I realized: I was putting my trust in my money.
The thought shocked me as I’ve never thought of myself as one who worries about money. I’ve never gone hungry, but I also don’t spend a lot – like I’ve gone on one vacation in the past seven years – and carry no debt. I’ve actually kind of watch with intrigue and amusement the parade of endless commercials and books and methods promising getting rich quick or decrease your credit card payments.
What arrogance, Alissa! Turns out that you’re insecure about money, just like every other American. Talk about a humbling experience that requires some self-reflection.
I’m still blue about my car and the fact I was found at fault when I was trying my darnedest. Oh well. These things just happen sometimes. That’s why they’re called accidents.