Life is short: Prioritize the adventure

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I wrecked my car back in October (see image below; it does not show how bad it was – car was completely totaled). It was kind of a surreal experience – a learning experience. You know how you sort of know how things work in a country you have always lived in because you experienced it, knew others who had experienced it or saw it on TV (for example, you witnessed emergency vehicles come to the scene of an accident in reality or on a medical drama)? But when you move to a different country, the whole process may be different. Or it may be exactly the same with slight differences. When my car collided with a tractor (yes, a tractor – also visible in the background in the photo), it seemed like everything was moving in slow motion. At no time did I feel fear. No idea why; even the paramedics at the scene and the medical personnel at the hospital kept saying, “You are so calm. How are you so calm?”.

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The car spun around completely so it was facing the complete opposite direction from the one I had been traveling in, and the back end of the car was in a ditch. I was able to climb out of the car easily, and the only instantly obvious injuries were loads of small cuts on my legs, which were bleeding, creating a puddle of blood in one of my shoes. Of course the fire department, ambulance and police all eventually showed up, and I was taken to a nearby hospital to be checked out. I had a lot of major bruises all over me from the seat belt, a lot of small cuts on my legs – most of these things are now healed except for some very deep bruising on my inner calves, one of which is still discolored, more than three months later. In this process I found that the whole thing plays out about like it would in the US or on TV shows… but some small things, of course, were somewhat different, such as the car insurance stuff being resolved in about three days, being charged about 40USD for the whole debacle (can only imagine what it would cost in the US) and the police phoning me a week after the accident just to check that I was okay. (I guess it would also be appropriate to say, even though mortality never crossed my mind throughout the entire car-crash incident and aftermath, that these small ‘events’, too, should influence the prioritization of adventure. You don’t really know what’s coming for you – I had just returned from a trip and had no food in the house, dashed to the store, ten minutes from home, and crashed only about five minutes away from my house, a true statistic. It could have been much worse, even fatal, and would any of the stupid rationalizations I routinely come up with to stop myself from doing things I really want to do matter any more? No.)

Where I live, it is not really possible to be without a car, but I worked with the lack of transportation for a while. I was in a bit of shock after the crash and had convinced myself that I immediately wanted to move to a city and started planning to move to Berlin. This meant I did not want to spend money buying a new car. I did not want to drive at all. I eventually realized I needed to buy something at least temporarily, but then I could never quite make myself purchase any of the crap I looked at. In the end, my enthusiasm for Berlin died away, and I bought something else and am still weighing the options on moving to a city (or not). So many things have happened just in the time since I went to Berlin to look at flats that I’ve had trouble making a decision – despite my own dislike for indecision. Oddly, other people’s indecision seems to influence my own ability to make decisions, and this is kind of troubling.

Sometime in the limbo of not having a car, casually looking at car websites, I happened to see an old Honda del Sol for sale in southern Sweden – something that I thought would pique my brother’s interest. It is a car he knows how to take apart and rebuild. He knows everything about it and loves it, having owned two himself since the early 1990s. I did not really think by sending him the link to the car that he would insist that he wanted to buy it, but that is exactly what happened. At the time, when he decided to come to Sweden to see the car, I felt a bit put out because it was really inconvenient and really bad timing. I did not even have my own car but was going to try to help him buy a hobby car? I had to take an expensive taxi ride to the train station, take a six-hour train ride to Malmö and meet him down there and then go look at this car that he might not even want once he saw it. (And then of course he did not have the money in hand when he did want it, so I had to pay for it upfront and that did not go entirely smoothly either, even though it worked out within a day.) In terms of time, timing, finance and transport the entire thing was crazy for me. And why did he need to buy a car in Sweden (to keep at my house) anyway? But that is exactly what happened.

He flew to Copenhagen and then came to Malmö to meet with me, and we bought this car. (Never mind the ensuing inconvenience once he departed – I still had to drive the car home the six hours back to the woods; it was winter but the car has weird-sized tires, so I could not find anywhere that had winter tires in stock. I stayed several days in Gothenburg, halfway home, waiting out the wintry weather, as the forecast called for a warm break during which it would be a good time to complete the drive back.)

It all worked out… and upon reflection, it is a valuable, even treasured, memory and experience. I spent quality time with my brother, who is one of the closest people in the world to me, had a true adventure (and that is another thing I learned/experienced for the first time – I had never purchased a car privately, only through dealerships, so I found out how easy that – and getting a car added to insurance – is), and appreciated the moment, despite, or maybe even because of, its inconveniences. It was only a short week or so later that our uncle died; we knew when we were in Malmö together that the end was coming, and this impending loss made us feel all the more appreciative of our time together and all the adventures we have prioritized having. Our mom and her brother were as close as my brother and I are, so she has been suffering. And even if/when my brother and I face that same kind of loss of each other, we at least will have our memories of travel adventures together.

(Oh, and certainly it goes without saying: don’t prioritize having an adventure like crashing your car. It is not worth it. Haha. I did not end up buying a replacement car until mid-December, and then it was another road trip adventure (for me alone) – car was in Stockholm (really far away).)

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