When I was young, we would visit my grandmother every summer. She lived by the ocean and the drive took days. While we are there, we go to the beach every day. I remember the taste of the ocean water in my mouth, the invisible pull of the skin on my face, dried by salt and sun. The grit of sand on my feet and its impossible persistence.
When we leave the beach, we always stop at the store for ice cream. Cold, sweet white with pink and green jewels of peppermint mixed throughout. It’s always a race against the sun to see who can consume it first.
The store also sells my favorite comic book and on this day, I’m stunned to discover a new issue, different from the one my grandmother bought me only a day before. I don’t know if it’s just her kindness, or the desperate elation on my face but she buys it for me none the less.
Once we are back at her house, preparations for dinner begin. My grandmother is making my favorite meal and my mother joins her as they shell the cold grey shrimp and slice up the ripe avocados. This summer, the Olympics are on the TV. I’m amazed by how the gymnasts flip and spin, soaring like the illustrated ninjas from my comic book. From the other room, I can hear my grandmother humming a song. The house is a symphony of noises: the clang of dishes, the cheer of the Olympic crowd, and the sound of my sister playing. But still, on top of that, my grandmother’s hum travels across the house and lulls me to sleep.
Years later, I will catch a ride home from college with her and my grandfather as they travel cross country. As we drive through the desert, she sings ‘On the street where you live’ to me and I recognize the song from years before. It reminds me of the many days that have passed since that summer vacation but when I stop and recall my perfect day, I don’t think of sand or comics or shrimp or gymnasts:
I just think of my grandmother.