I do not believe the sky that hangs over Wyoming is the same one I can currently see out my window. There is something magical about it, something completely unreal–it’s as if the sky was not above me but surrounded me, engulfed me, swallowed me in pure, ethereal blue, reaching back and touching both ends of the Earth. Between the sands and sky of Wyoming lies nothing but a quiet stillness. Anything louder a whisper feels like a crime against nature, like nothing bad could happen there.
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But of course, the great irony of the world is that the safer and quieter a place appears to be, the more like tragedy is to strike.
It was 2014, the summer my family decided to drive to Oregon for a funeral, a relative of my stepmom who I had never met. The drive from Michigan to Oregon is not a pleasant one, especially for a 14 year old sitting in the back of a minivan, squished between two brothers bickering over video games. The trip took over a week, and this particular morning had started in Colorado, in a suburb near Denver. Nearly 5 hours into the car ride, I was completely mesmerized by the open sky. I had never seen anything like it. Perhaps my father, the driver of the minivan, had also been distracted by the beauty of the sky, because one moment we were cruising down the highway and the next our car clunked to the ground, one back tire popped by a large, splintery piece of metal.
Maybe we’d have had better luck if it hadn’t been a Sunday. Day turned to night as we waited for a tow truck to take us to the nearest car repair shop. I sat outside in the dry heat while my parents were told that there wouldn’t be a replacement wheel until the next week. The future of the trip looked dim, while the sky lit up with more stars than I knew existed. I started counting, losing track after a few thousand as I drifted off to sleep.
The next day was filled with uncertainty. We needed to be in Oregon by Wednesday. The tire wouldn’t be in until the next Monday.
This bizarre situation called for a bizarre solution. With the time crunch, my parents did the rational thing.
That’s how the story of a popped tired becomes one about the time we bought a new car in Wyoming.
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