By: Michelle Nedboy
My grandma’s kitchen was small and squat, its oven and counters sandwiched next to each other. There was just enough room to walk, turn around and cook. The little watery window overlooked the bushes and the wheelchair ramp that I’d fly down. It overlooks the gated park of hopscotch and brick; I learned how to ride my tricycle in that sunken park, and how to throw a Frisbee without it going all wobbly. I’d play with my slinky on the steps and blow bubbles with my uncles. The small hallway before my grandma’s door smelled faintly of smoke, and her neighbor with breathing problems complained about it a few times. I remember that.
We’d bake corn muffins on my visits. I’d mix the stuff up on my kiddy table, right by the hot oven, and we’d set the timer for however long. We waited for the battering ring, the oven light on, the muffins puffing before my eyes. I’d slather them with butter and drink milk out of my little brown cup. I always thought that little brown cup was special, one of a kind. It took me years to learn that it was the most common type of cup found in diners and hospitals, just brown—and mine. The place we ate (I can’t call it a dining room, it was thimble-sized) had a black and white checkered floor that stopped abruptly, its retro patterning cut off by party-gold piping. It made me think of chess and dancing and taxis. My chair was mustard and plump, the placemat I ate mac n’ cheese and Vienna Sausages off of a yellow cow with black spots. Next to the table was a set of drawers with candies and birthday candles that I’d admire; their red-orange wax winded up and wrapped in a thin white stripe.
My grandma and I would pop popcorn in the microwave and eat them in green bowls. The leftover kernels sat at the bottom; we’d spin them around the bowls like race cars until they flew out. There was a lot to do when I was bored. The ornate black and brown tiles in my room birthed roads and crosswalks for my toy cars and fingers to march along; the lamps in the corner reminded me of planets, their bulbs bright and colorful. When I got older, I would sit on the couch and play my DS and eat cashews, my feet curled up and socked. When I was younger, I’d make paper airplanes and fill the bathroom sink with water, my Polly Pockets floating on their backs. When I was older, I’d get my period and look at the tiles and think about what it was going to be like, being twelve and a woman. When I was younger, I’d hula hoop in secret so I wouldn’t get in trouble.
It will forever be my grandma’s house, with its mixed tiles and baby kitchen, its bendy straws in the top cupboard and its squirrel peanuts in the leftmost drawer, right by the watery window.