The time the universe bought me a Gatorade.

When people talk about miracles, I zone out. Like evil or patriotism, the concept of miracles just isn’t real to me. I stick to the concrete things in life.

And so, for years, when I thought about whether I’d ever experienced a miracle, I thought about a hot summer afternoon in Charlottesville, Virginia, where I went to college.

One August, I quit my job waiting tables in Virginia Beach and returned to Charlottesville early. Most of my friends and roommates were still out of town.

Summer in Charlottesville is hot and humid. You start to sweat as soon as you get out of the shower, and the air is heavy. I couldn’t figure out how to turn on the air conditioning in our new rental house.

I napped to escape the heat, and woke up sweaty and languid.

I started going for long walks in the afternoon to pass the time. Now, I walk everywhere. But then, fresh from my suburban childhood, I felt like I was doing something odd.

One afternoon, I was on a long walk and I got very thirsty. I hadn’t thought to bring money or water, and I was miles from home.

Eventually, I found myself on a two-lane country road with no sidewalk, just a shoulder. I was excited to see a small convenience store on the other side of the road. Hot, dusty, and desperate for water, I planned to ask for a drink in exchange for a promise to return and pay later.

Just as I was about to cross the street, I noticed two dollar bills on the ground on the shoulder of the road. I picked them up, went into the store, and bought the best Gatorade I’ve ever tasted.

I felt like the universe had given me a gift. Sure, it was a trivial moment. I wasn’t in the Gobi about to die from thirst. (And if I had been, I’m sure the shop clerk would have given me some water on the house). But I needed something, and suddenly it was there, in a very unlikely way.

Yes, finding two dollars on the ground has been the most miraculous event in my life so far.

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