The tire is flat. It is the coolest thing I have ever seen. My grandmother stands by the blue car, watching me watching the tire. Eventually, she smiles.
I poke and prod at it, feeling the rubber beneath my two-year-old fingertips. “Flat tire!” I say, gleefully. “Flat tire!”
“Yes, it’s flat,” she says, ever-patient though no doubt annoyed that her car will require repairs. “Get in. We’ll go to the gas station.”
We drive on the flat tire down the block to the gas station, only a few hundred feet away so it is okay to drive with a flat tire, not really but it is what we do. We arrive at the Getty station, climb out of the car. I move around to the back right side of the vehicle to observe the tire again. This is so cool. It is different, something I have never seen before.
The gas station attendant arrives, talks with my grandmother, vanishes inside the garage again. After an indeterminate amount of time, the car is driven forward into the garage and lifted high into the air. From my vantage point, it looks like it is soaring. I am tiny, and the car is huge. I am earth-bound, less than three feet tall, and I have never seen the underside of a car before, never even thought that cars might have undersides. I mean, of course they did, but I’d never thought about it. I hadn’t thought about many things at all, before this.
This is my first memory. It is a good one. I shriek with delight as the car rises into the air, and clap my hands and laugh. My grandmother just watches me, and eventually she smiles.