12 June 2012
1 summer magic
The Memphis summer was so hot that the icing on my birthday cake melted on more than one occasion.
On summer evenings, my grandfather would buy a watermelon from the cart on Cleveland and we’d sit on the porch and devour it. Given strict instructions not to be "a priss," I let the juice drip down my dress, the seeds stuck to my knees. My gran sat on the porch swing swatting mosquitoes and sewing.
She would rock back and forth, back and forth until dusk, when- because she was always furthest from the citronella candle, the scent of which made her eyes water- the fireflies would descend around her, their lights hitting the red in her hair and the red of the bricks in such a way that, for years after, I would take it for granted that she was a fairy and that those evenings were enchanted.
We all lived in Memphis then. We shared weeknights and Saturday afternoons and Sunday suppers. On vacations, we'd pile into my grandfather's van. A van that, curiously, had no back seats so- in a move that was the single most hicktastic thing my family has ever done- we would pitch lawn chairs where the seats should’ve been.
My grandmother asks: Remember how we would put you up in the van on a pile of phone books and go on a great adventure?
And I have to say no because I do not remember the phone books. I only remember the adventure.
The pair of us sitting in the very back of the van, my white plastic lawn chair with the white and green woven plastic seat pushed as close to hers as it would go so I could lay my head in her lap while her pencil scratched against the page of the word search puzzles book that she rested on my back. I would lie there listening. To the scratch of her pencil and the sound of my grandfather, alone in the front seat, chewing peanuts and humming along to the big band music playing on NPR.
Words, music, magic. That is what I remember.