Sand in my Suit — Lucky luck lavender

The only downside to living as opposed to being dead is that bad things can still happen to you. I mean the annoying, stressful, just plain painful kinds of things. You get cheated. Robbed. A freckle turns out to be more than just a freckle. You lose someone who actually meant something to you — or, as was my case on a recent weekend, you hydroplane onto the 405 only to end up completely blocking the middle of the freeway.

I escaped the whole ordeal without a scratch, but the borrowed Toyota still needs some TLC. I was seriously thankful to be alive, as dramatic as that sounds, my only wish as my head hit my pillow that night being for tomorrow to come so that the day that I hydroplaned on the 405 would be over.

You would think that the whole “I’m alive and well” element of the incident would bestow upon me a grateful, even optimistic disposition towards my tangled situation, yet the next couple of days were anything but cheery. Nobody wants to receive voicemails from insurance representatives, go from body shop to body shop looking for damage estimates, or drive with a corpse in their passenger seat (flat tire with busted rim wrapped in plastic).

On top of wrestling with financial matters I was also experiencing the worst toothache of my life. All signs pointed to an impeding root canal, and if you already guessed that I don’t have car insurance, than it won’t be a surprise to learn that I also don’t have dental coverage. As I popped a few more Advil and learned how much a new rear bumper costs, I thought to myself, “when did I become an adult?” I used to think that being able to recite my social security number earned me a pass beyond the velvet rope that separates the kids from the grown-ups, yet apparently, I’ve only just moved up a spot in line.

Having this accident has taught me a few things beyond the scope of cars and credit cards. Above all, it has reminded me to reflect on the company that I keep, and I’ll tell you one thing: they ain’t too shabby.

I look around me and most of what I see is good people in my life. We are all stuck with the family that we are born into but the task of choosing whom we befriend and surround ourselves with is all up to us. I’m fortunate that I have a great, supportive family but proud that I have friends who I can count on.

Volleyball has served as a gateway to meeting exceptional and motivated individuals.  Literally every day that I go out and train I am amazed by and grateful for my coach and the other girls who show such compassion, modesty, and patience towards the game and one another. They don’t know this, but I look up to every single one of them.

Amidst the mess that I was dealing with in my own little world, these girls were genuinely celebrating my small successes on the court. For a few hours I could forget that a large portion of my entire net worth was going to part ways with me.

But look! What’s that I see through all this mess? Why, it’s the silver lining: if it weren’t for my responsible money-saving efforts, I wouldn’t be able to cover the cost of this accident on my own — thank you, sis, for pointing that one out; I’ll remind myself of that as I sip from my next can of Tecate beer, since that’s as “top shelf” as it’s going to get for a while.

When I finally got myself into a dentist’s chair, awaiting the results of my x-rays, I didn’t even have time to warn the doctor of my fragile emotional state before the tears rolled in. He couldn’t have acted any kinder, assuring me that I’m lucky to have escaped an accident like that with my health intact, that in the grand scheme of things this is just a drop in the bucket. He proceeded to tell me about the car accident he had gotten into that left him hospitalized and in a coma for over a week. He said he could consciously here the doctors putter around him, whispering, “I can’t believe this guy’s still around.”

This whole experience has also made me reflect on my California lifestyle. What if I wasn’t pursuing beach volleyball? I would most likely be reporting to an office that had a ceiling, for one, but I’d also probably have better access to health, dental, and car insurance — job benefits a part-time waitress cannot indulge in. Perhaps following a more traditional career path would’ve placed me in a better, more informed position to deal with the nitty-gritty post car accident details. Maybe I would be sending messages on a Blackberry instead of on a blueberry…

All this reflection can really cause a girl to second-guess her place in the world. But you know how I can tell that I am where I need to be, doing what I am meant to be doing? Because if I happened to find a wad of benjamins stuffed in a bush someplace (yes, this is my “stumble upon an obscene amount of money” fantasy — don’t pretend like you don’t have one yourself), I’d want to keep my life the way that it is. I wouldn’t be inclined to pack up and move someplace else, or dramatically quit my waitressing job. Nothing drastic would change — more Blue Moons and less Tecate, yes, but getting yelled at by my Brazilian coach three times a week? Biking to meet a friend for breakfast at Martha’s on a sunny morning? Typing these very words right now? This is where I want to be.

Katrina Zawojski lives in Hermosa Beach and is chasing her dream of a career in professional beach volleyball. Follow her on Twitter at sandinmysuit1. ER

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