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It is 7am in the morning on 2/15, and I see I have a missed called from Mom. I call back.

“Hi honey!! I just wanted to know: do you ‘serve’ a fellowship? What do you do?”

To which I respond with the golden reply most kids give in response to their parents:

“Mom, I don’t know.”

We discuss the semantics of participating in a Fellowship program and how someone describes that to other people. She then asks me if I received my reflector vest in the mail the other day, to which I confirmed that it was delivered this last Tuesday. Then she asks if it fits, to which I replied “yes”. After some five minutes, I tell Mom that I have to leave to work and we say we’ll chat later.

I step outside into the fog and get my bike out to make the short trek to work. As I ride through the dense curtain of fog, I start thinking that it probably would have been smart to get the reflector vest.

On 2/9, I was in a car accident off of Interstate 10, just past the Morongo Indian Reservation in Banning. I had hit my brakes and slid into the next lane, getting clipped by an oncoming SUV on my passenger headlight. Thankfully, no one was hurt and (this is of the lowest priority) my car still runs, despite missing a front bumper and both headlights. It also helped that everyone involved was polite (helps that no one was injured). But the absence of my car is felt, not because I have some emotional attachment to it but because, with exception of perhaps East Bay and San Francisco, it is very tough to get around without a car in the state of California. Car culture permeates everywhere: it infects the way we look at infrastructure, the way we set up our public transit systems, the social dynamics of everyday life, and so on. The Inland Empire isn’t any different: if you have taken the 91 or 60 freeways to go ten miles, you realize it takes you 45 minutes depending on the time of day and which direction you are going. There is very little, at most inconvenient, public transit to go this far, and good luck getting to downtown Riverside on time from Moreno Valley either on a bike OR a bus within an appropriate timeframe. Were I to go to downtown Riverside, I’d probably have to shell out $20 on a Lyft (this is a guess, though I’m sure it’d be more expensive than the Lyft I took to work the other day, which was $6.07). For a few days, I felt like my independence was robbed. My sadness was pervasive even as I reporting it to my insurance company the following day: the representative, as they were asking me what happened, had to interject with an “Are you okay?” in a very stoic voice as I shook while recounting the event to them.

Soon, however, the blame and sadness turned to gratitude and thankfulness: grateful that I can still get around, and thankful that no one was hurt. It’s strange how the absence of a car, even in rainy weather, can be paradoxically cathartic. It helps to be near everything (originally because I wanted a short commute to work, but in retrospect was a super smart decision), but having the rain make contact with your face and obscure your vision by accumulating on your glasses is an excellent way to reconnect with the outside world. If only horses were an accepted way of traveling in MoVal, I would buy a horse and ride everywhere. The only thing that I am a bit questionable on is where I’m going to do laundry, as my landlord (while also not having wifi) doesn’t allow me to use his washer and dryer.

Few car accidents on interstates, especially ones as troubling and busy as the 10, end as passively as mine did. My car, though operational, cannot be resold and will likely not be fixed to be in selling condition. But my dad, in a phone call the night after, put it succinctly:

“Alan, it’s just a piece of metal. You are insured, and no one was hurt. Accidents rarely end like yours did.”

Very true.

And in reply to when I was worried that I would be sued for anything:

“Alan, no one is going to sue you, you’re not worth anything.”

Thanks pops.

It’s Monday morning, two days after the accident. I wash my hair, brush my teeth, dress myself in a dress shirt and my favorite pair of chinos. I put on my double-breasted coat, button it to the highest portion, sling my messenger bag over my shoulders, and get my bike out.

I ride down the street. It’s 32 degrees Fahrenheit in the Inland Empire, cold as can be for my desert ass, but it’s nice to feel the cold air meeting my face.

I get to work, put my bike in my cubicle, and get a hot cup of coffee. It’s not for the caffeine: my thumbs felt like they were about to freeze off.

I’m grateful.

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