Between the ages of five and eleven, I spent three weeks of every summer with my cousin Austin at our grandparent’s house in Troy, Idaho. I shared a room with my grandma, and she would snore every night. We’d sneak into our grandpa’s bathroom and use his shaving cream on our faces. We played in the backyard, pretending to be cowboys, pirates, secret agents, wild dogs. We pretended to drive my grandpa’s lawnmower like a car.
We went camping. Once, Austin and I were sitting down at the shore on the river, and he dropped a really big rock on my head. “I’m going to tell on you!” I screamed angrily through pained tears. I raced back to the campsite before he could beat me to it and give an alternate story. He didn’t get in trouble anyway. We begged grandpa to let us help carry firewood to the firepit. I felt very strong.
We drank diet, caffeine free pepsi from cans sitting in the ice chest. I caught fuzzy caterpillars and put them in my bug container. My grandma heard the news of Princess Diana’s death on the television while she was cooking in the motor home. I felt sad. I didn’t know that princesses could die. My grandma let me use the film camera to take pictures to distract me from the news. It worked.
I begged my grandpa to let me sit in the front of the boat when we’d drive down the lake. After a few hours of pleading, he said yes.
We loved our grandpa. We loved summer. We loved camping.
We ate Oreo O’s for breakfast every morning. My grandma cut up pieces of cheese and salami as a snack. She brewed tea in the sunlight, on the porch that my grandpa built. On the morning of the day we were going to the zoo, I laid in bed for what felt like hours. Something was wrong. I felt too hot, I felt too cold. I threw up down the side of the bed. They wouldn’t let me go to the zoo after that. We caught locusts in jars, and shrieked with disgusted, happy laughter when our grandpa made us hold the fish we’d caught that day. They were so slimy! My grandpa and Aunt Cindy sat on the porch in the afternoon sunlight, while Austin and I tried to get their attention. “Look what I can do!” I screamed as I rolled down the hill in the backyard, getting grass stains on my clothes.
My grandpa had a miniature australian shepherd named Mandy, and when Austin and I would argue and start wrestling, she would bark until we stopped. We went to a cherry tree farm and picked ripe, juicy cherries right off the trees, dropping them into tin buckets. Our fingers were stained purple. We laughed and burped cherry flavored burps, after popping them into our mouths instead of dropping them into the buckets. We ate more than we took home. We ate idaho spuds from the drug store down the street. Our grandma bought us “Someone In Troy, Idaho Loves Me!” shirts from the same drug store. We ate open-faced chilli burgers from the diner. I learned to tie my shoes. Our grandparents took pictures of us in harvested wheat fields.
We loved summer. We loved Troy, Idaho. We loved our grandparents.