Everywhere I drove, I saw plates from Goshen County marked by the number 7. The number 7 always used to be my favorite number, my lucky number, before I began seeing number patterns repeatedly everywhere I looked fifteen years later. Seven became insignificant compared to the persistent 222s, 221s, 555s and other random number sequences—until a couple weeks ago when sevens kept flashing before my eyes no matter where I went. But it was the license plates that were leading me to dig deep into my roots, to search for something I didn’t know I had lost.
So here I find myself in a window seat of the newly opened bakery in a town out on the open prairie with a population of 5,000— Torrington, Wyoming. It’s a town with prominent aromas of cow manure and dried couchgrass. Almost nobody born here stays—but I imagine there are some that do. It’s a town of new beginnings, just like every other mildly progressive town in Wyoming. A new restaurant had sprouted at some point within the past fifteen years with my last name as a title. A western boutique with a few boho items stood within a tiny complex at the end of downtown. The furniture store was closing.
Driving eighty miles through such a scene the average person would consider “nothing to look at” was surprisingly a beautiful revelation for me. I drove down the dark road surrounded by an open area of buffalo grass below a subtle blue, cloudless sky. But if you scan see past that, looking with a deeper vision, you might see the Rocky Mountains glowing in a pink aura through the rearview mirror, and feel the wind rustling your hair as though you were among the horses on the sides of the road. You can see herds of free-range cows along the prairie drinking from a deep blue creek that is somehow still flowing in the middle of November.
And you thought you’d finished the straight path, you arise on top of the prairie and gasp in awe. Oh… so this is where I come from, I thought. The road was no longer black; it descended into hues of purple, nicely complimenting the hues of red sagebrush. Small rock formations sat piled in pyramidal stacks across the view, only to be noticed by those curious enough about this happy land. Really, it was a happy, lightweight feeling I was overcome with. No longer was my heart sinking into the same view I saw each day; instead, it was spread right out in front of me. There was the old faux chimney rock we called “Hitchhiker’s Thumb” with various roads open up to explore the top if I ever felt the urge to do so. There was Horse Creek, there was Hawk Springs. Places I’d forgotten existed. I’d forgotten where I came from…
Along the horizon, majestic purple plateaus were glowing magenta. Everywhere I looked along the roadsides, healthy bussels of astragalus were sprouting amongst couchgrass. I was breathtaken—breathing in the whole sky, the plains, the purple plateaus. I was now spiraling down this two-lane road, wondering what incentive everyone else travelling it had. Cars from Nebraska and others from upstate Wyoming were speeding towards me. What was triggering their travels? Was it the number 7? Was it any kind of number?
Finally, I came upon the Water Tower and the unnecessarily bold billboard exclaiming “WELCOME TO TORRINGTON, WYOMING”. My grin expanded outside my face and into my heart and crown chakras. I was home.