The move was a seemingly short process compared to the amount of time I spent marking x’s on each day of my calendar, the days dragging on as the summer sun began to show his appreciation for the small town. Boxes overflowing, labeled kitchen, FRAGILE, books, countless nights spent on a futon dreaming of the future days I’d be living in the Neal Hawkins home. A park, an ice cream shop, an ideal location.
A sundress and a quick swipe of the key, out the door in moments along with the children of the family. We always walked in a long line, holding hands like a line of ducklings. The slides and swingsets littered around the park slightly burned due to the sun, his personal way of joining in on the fun. Bicycles and dogs and endless sporting events, a shack equipped with nachos and hot dogs, picnic tables and bumblebees; the kids were in heaven, much like myself. A scraped knee, followed by tears, followed by laughter later on in the day. My summer Sunday mornings were to be spent with a cup of coffee, overlooking the park as an intense game of t-ball took place.
After hours of bickering with my family, I searched for my warmest sweater only to then become smothered by tiny goosebumps as I made my escape out of the back door, the cold winter wind whispering against my dry skin, letting me know that it, too, felt my pain. My feet carried me over to the isolated park, eerily empty due to the weather; yet a perfect fit for my jagged mood. With pink cheeks, I sat upon the park bench alone, finally becoming enveloped by a content feeling. My introvertedness called for moments like this one, moments only spent with myself and perhaps a book; my own personal vacation.
Sunday family dinners never failed to be followed by begs from the kids for a trip to the ice cream shop that was within walking distance of our little home. After 13 no’s, they somehow always managed to shake a yes out of me. The duckling line followed me down the sidewalk toward the ice cream shack, singing songs of joy and yelling out their numerous different requests for grape, strawberry, chocolate. Traveling back home with messy faces and clothes, sweat beading on their little heads, they were never to be deemed unsatisfied by a nice dessert.
They say that there is no problem in this world that can’t be fixed, or at least alleviated by ice cream. Post dentist appointment with painful gums and weak smiles, fifty cents for a solution to help mend my pain. Reluctantly taking many trips down the road, the constant reminder in the back of my mind that a simple soft serve is almost the only thing that could possibly fulfill my needs. As the sweet ice came into contact with my feelings, it froze them solid; one cup of happiness for me, please.
I’ve had many long talks with my grandmother over diagonally cut PB&J sandwiches and iced sweet tea, the condensation forming around the glass sides of our mason jars much like the tears in our eyes; production of excessive laughter. We had no idea that this was simply our bodies warning us for the storm to come, lightning the electric tension between my family and I, thunder clouds hanging over our heads, crying along with us and producing a steady stream of rainfall onto our heads.
Nana has her bad days. “Have you begun spring break yet?” It is winter. Her memory melts away along with the snow resting upon the ground. The kitchen door whines with each opening and closing it endures as she makes her way into the room, once, twice, five times before she eventually remembers what it is she went in for. My siblings and I sit, listening to the humdrum tales of her childhood, her tone excited and adrenalized as though they took place just yesterday.