“Okay, what’s the damage?” I asked with trepidation to the mechanic working on my car.
“Well, it’s not good. You need a new head gasket. I’m afraid the cost to replace it with labor will be more than your car’s worth,” he replied.
I paused as this news sunk in. Thoughts of the implications began to hit me.
“Ma’am? Are you still there?” he asked.
“Sorry, I’m here,” I replied.
“If you don’t want to do the repairs, my boss’ll buy it from you for $100, and that’ll cancel out the cost of today’s bill,” he offered.
“Okay, let’s do that. I’ll come by later with the title. Thanks.” I replied.
I sat stunned, not knowing what to do. My budget was maxed out. I had no savings to pay for a new car, or the repairs, and was scraping by paycheck to paycheck. I needed to come up with some options.
Option 1 – Ride the Bus to Work
I lived in the county which meant the nearest city bus stop was five miles away – about a two hour walk one way. Since I was already running on overdrive working full time during the day and going to school full time at night, I felt I’d save this option as a last resort, especially since I was in class two evenings a week until 10:00 p.m. I knew there were people who could and would do this, but I decided it’d be best to explore other options first.
Option 2 – Get a Roommate
I had a three bedroom house, so it was feasible to get a roommate to rent out the spare bedroom. Yet, all of my friends who I’d want to live with already had roommates, so I’d have to advertise. The thought of living with a stranger didn’t appeal to me at that point.
Option 3 – Sell
In the two years I’d lived there, my family had helped me fix the place up a bit. We painted, added window treatments, and landscaped. We had made it look quite homey by then. I knew this meant I’d at least be able to break even, maybe even make enough off the sale to buy another car. Option 3 was looking pretty good, so all that was left was to determine where to live.
I was lucky to have family in town. At this time my parents were busy raising two teenagers, one of whom was in a band and held regular practice in their basement. Hmmm… not a conducive environment for all the studying and papers I had to write. So, I worked out arrangements with my grandparents who were also in town. They were happy to oblige, so option 3 was decided.
I called my realtor and we listed it. At this time, home prices were still on the rise (being before the crash of 2008), so it didn’t take long to sell my little American dream, hand over the keys and move out.
I still remember feeling like a failure. I had been able to buy a home of my very own at the age of 23, and yet a mere two years later, I was selling. All because of my poor choices. As we filled an entire U-Haul trailer with my possessions, I felt sick about it. I was selling my home all because of that stuff I had to have and couldn’t wait for. Buy now, pay later had come back to bite me.
As it turned out, once I got over saying goodbye to my house, living at Grandma and Granddad’s was pretty awesome. Between home cooked meals and Grandma’s cookies, I had plenty to eat. Shortly after I moved in, my cousin joined us as well. She was going to school at one of the other colleges in town. We spent many nights chatting about life, love and happiness between writing papers, preparing presentations and studying, studying, and more studying.
My Granddad used to love the prime time soaps. I’d take breaks from my homework to join him in an episode of “Desperate Housewives” or “Mad Men.” Every morning he’d get up and make coffee. When I’d come upstairs I’d find him and my cat Pruitt sitting in the two chairs at the kitchen island. Pruitt would hear him get up in the morning, trot upstairs and join him at the bar. He’d just sit there next to him while Granddad drank his coffee. That was the only cat Granddad ever admitted to finding somewhat tolerable. I believe his words were, “As far as cats go, that one’s alright.” This naturally meant he loved him.
I will always cherish those times with my grandparents. And I am so grateful for being able to get to know my cousin better. You can’t buy that kind of time. I didn’t know at the time we’d have less than ten more years with Granddad. As it turned out, saying goodbye to one dream opened the doors for a priceless experience I hadn’t imagined.
We never know until we look back how hard times can be blessings in disguise. And my hard times paled in comparison to many. I had a job to go to, family to fall back on, and a warm bed with a home full of love.
This experience taught me to reevaluate my needs. I didn’t need the fancy things. The shopping binges. A U-Haul trailer couldn’t transport what I truly needed. The most important thing I learned was to remember during hard times, times I felt like a failure, that something better is coming even when I can’t see it yet.
For now, I’ll leave you with the song Blessings by Laura Story.
“’Cause what if your blessings come through raindrops
What if Your healing comes through tears
What if a thousand sleepless nights are what it takes to know You’re near
What if trials of this life are Your mercies in disguise”
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This post was a part of my Pocketbook Confessions series. You can catch up on the previous posts here.
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