No hay mal que por bien no venga.

(Literally, “there is no evil that does not come for good.” Roughly equivalent to “every cloud has a silver lining.”)

That has been my mantra today. 

After the insanity of Monday, I have been sitting in my apartment, playing phone tag with the dealership… knowing that everyone who told me “it’s probably not that bad” was wrong. 

You see, when my car would no longer accelerate and I got it pulled over on the side of the road on momentum alone? I knew it was the transmission, just like you know when you’re going to get bad news before the call even comes. 

To think that on Monday I was planning so many things to do this week. 

You see, I had not realized how incredibly dependent I am on my vehicle, even on a mental level, until I had to walk away from it on Monday. 

I spent Tuesday so despondent that I started the phone tag because I did not know if I could handle to hear the news. So I spent all that day trying to do research, trying to convince myself that money was going to work itself out. I had naively estimated I’d be spending $3000 at the most, and I had a desperate plan in place–but I had something

I answered the phone at 9:11 this morning, and the minute he started talking, I knew this wouldn’t end well–it’s the “I’m so sorry” voice, the same one Pat the Tow Truck Guy had used. He simply said that it was something inside the transmission, that the entire thing would need to replaced, and waited. That didn’t bode well–he was making me ask for the estimate. I did so hesitantly, and the minute he started the number with 42 I knew I was screwed. I was so floored that I didn’t hear the exact amount, and I muttered something about needing to consult and calling him back.

Let me make something clear: this couldn’t have come at a worse time. I’m living off savings this summer after being screwed over for a summer job, and my earlier car emergency and Kiwi’s veterinary emergency had already depleted a lot of those reserves. I have been making crazy calculations all summer to make sure I can stay current on bills, and I have literally been counting on every cent that has come in to make sure that I continue my responsible streak. So, while I have been able to stay afloat so far, there’s no way I can try to float this. At all. Not when it means my rent might be late. 

I’m not proud to say this, but it’s important to admit it–I spent literally the rest of the day lying in bed feeling sorry for myself. I ordered a milkshake and some eggs, “because $20 won’t make a fucking difference,” and I wallowed. A couple of desperate phone calls/texts to get some advice, and a lot of thought. 

The most terrifying part, you see, is that the repairs cost more than the car is worth at this point, and that’s not even factoring the $1200 I spent on it a couple of months ago (timing belt replacement plus repairs due to squirrels chewing through wires. Not a joke)–but I have not paid it off, so there’s no way that I can just say “screw it, I’ll buy a new car.” 

Even worse, I am committed to my job and my apartment for the next year…. and that’s going to be an insane commute. 3 buses or 2 buses and a train; hour and a half on a good day, and considering how 2014 is going? I am not expecting many of those. Not to mention groceries, laundromat… 

I recognize how spoiled that sounds. In this way, I have had a lot of privilege–after living in Chicago for six years in very comfortable, very CTA-accessible dwellings, my move to Albany Park was made easier by the fact that I had a reliable vehicle. Not having the car available complicates things immensely, and it is also messing with my head. I feel fettered to the apartment. 

Yes, you can laugh at that. The girl who has spent most of the summer in her apartment, sleeping too much, playing too much World of Warcraft, and feeling shitty about not working through the summer for the first time in a long time, now wants to go somewhere, anywhere because the car is gone. 

But, as I said, I have a plan. I have asked my credit union for a loan, including a heartfelt (and pretty desperate) note in my application. And, in a miracle, one of my closest friends said, “If that fails, I’ve got the money, and you can have it.” I’m hesitant to accept, and tried to dissuade her multiple times… but it might be the only way out. I figure, if I write us out a contract that’s legally enforceable, and I make it my priority to pay her back, it might be okay. Here’s to hoping it won’t come to that, though.

And, in the meantime? I’m going to sit here and be grateful for all I have, especially as so many of the people I love the most have taken time to offer their support and send distractions my way.

At the end of the day, even if feel like I’m drowning, I trust in HaShem’s will and guidance.  

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