The invitation to Seattle arrived while I was in the middle of helping put together a six person dinner. “The onesie-themed birthday bar crawl rides again tomorrow!” It was already 9 o’clock at night. The chicken had been cooked, people had food on their plates. Wine was being poured, conversation crackled through the room, but I knew I had to start planning. I deeply regretted missing it last year, so how could I resist? I had less than 24 hours, but Seattle isn’t that far, not really. It takes as long to drive as a good film. Ah, but only if you’re driving. The bus schedules are another matter and I had unshakable plans for Sunday afternoon. A volunteer shift, a piano lesson. And I had no car.
So I sent out feelers; I posted to Facebook, I messaged some friends. I worked to the soundtrack of verbal jousting, of new people crookedly thrown into a room together. I twanged the strings of the web while the dinner party continued until late became early until around 4 o’clock in the morning, my efforts delivered. I had a borrow car. I could drive to Seattle and come back the next day. It was just as much success as I needed, no more, no less. So I went. I took a quick nap on Claire’s couch, then I collected the car, popped home for overnight sundries, and left.
The right rear tire exploded somewhere just past Mt. Vernon. The weather had been inclement, rain and sleet and dry flakes of snow that swirled above the highway like a mystical fog, so I had been extra careful of the road. No matter, there was a bang and the car jumped, sliding a little like it had been pushed by a giant hand of strong wind. The white car behind me flashed their lights as I slowed, looking for a safe place to pull over, then came up beside me and rolled their window down to shout at me at 70 miles an hour. I looked over at the driver as we rolled out windows down. “You’re in my way!” I thought, “I need that lane to pull over!” But I turned off my music to hear him better over the wind of our transit anyway. “Your back tire blew!” he shouted. “Thank you!” I shouted back, equal parts glad that he took the effort and amused that he was blocking my only path to safety.
Thankfully there was an exit near with a visible gas station, so I limped the car into their parking lot, examined the shocking damage, and began to text people. “Can you send me the address of a tire shop?” It wasn’t repairable. A significant chunk of the tire had come off like something huge and vicious had taken a bite out of the black rubber. There were practically teeth marks. It smoked.