Mother Nature has finally gone and done it.
She made it past the kinda cold and rainy season (nominally, Spring) and plunged deeply into the height of Summer. She’s all-in: hazy, hot, and humid.
We’ve had some beautiful days with all the windows open in the trailer and the breeze blowing through. I tried taking one of my engineering projects outside, but couldn’t manage the glare on my laptop, but it was so pleasant inside that I didn’t mind. The trailer has a robust AC unit as well, and we’ve had to activate it a few times just to cut the stuffiness. I’m not an AC girl, preferring to run it at about 80, and yet I’m so very glad it works when we need it. Let’s face it, Frank and Pip and I live in a metal box! (There has to be some kind of metaphor there…)
The closeness of the trailer brings old memories to mind. And when I say old, I mean old. The other evening, a particularly poignant memory surfaced. I was suddenly back in the late 1960’s at my grandparents’ house; I was there.
To say that my grandparents disliked each other would have been inaccurate: they really disliked each other. Grandpa was ten years older than Grandma, and whatever forces brought them together to rear four daughters had simply faded away. They ended up being married for 67 years; I have no memories of affection between them, ever.
But they were never antagonistic to each other, either. They could co-exist at meals or when it was time for church. The rest of the time was almost choreographed. If Grandma was in her easy chair in the dining room, Grandpa was sitting in his bedroom looking out the window. If Grandma was in the living room watching TV, then Grandpa was sitting in the dining room, in a straight-backed chair beside the buffet. They rarely fought because they barely talked.
The evening I mentioned was hot and sultry, a soft summer night. It was almost dark, past twilight but with still quite a bit of light if you were outside. I was in my special refuge, the glider on the front porch. No one ever had to look very far to find me; I was always on the glider, either with a book or watching the cars go by. Back then, almost nothing but approaching night could get me inside, off that glider. As the light faded, I knew it was time to cover up the glider and come inside, reluctantly.
Grandma was watching something on TV, and it’s possible that she might have been asleep, since the whole house was dark and no one had turned any lights on yet. The darkening house just seemed so incredibly peaceful as I headed toward the kitchen, passing Grandpa in his stiff chair, saying his Rosary like he always did. I decided to honor the twilight and didn’t turn any lights on as I quietly, almost reverently, took a jelly jar out of the cabinet and drew a glass of water from the old tap. I made my way back past Grandpa to join Grandma watching whatever fantastic 60’s show was on, smelling the hot dust and listening to the crickets, seeing the lightning bugs starting their light show through the screen door, and just being a kid in the summer.
I wonder how my grandparents would have handled the trailer situation. Frank and I aren’t perfect, but we’re faced with living in a tiny space with no way to go in the other room, because there isn’t one. We are fortunate to simply get along most of the time, and we don’t like the feeling of discomfort when we’re not. We’ve learned to give each other space, right next to each other.
Yet on a soft summer night like tonight, half a century later, I am still there, the ghost of me with the ghosts of my grandparents, on one evening when everyone was happy in their own way.