I am four years old and we're down the Cape at a rented beach house. It's the off season and the mornings are chilly. My brother and I eat tiny boxes of the special, sugary cereal we're allowed this once a year as we wait for my grandmother to get up. She's always the first, always indulges us to go right down to the beach first thing in the morning, straight away. It can't be much past 7am. The tide is low, exposing ribs of rippled sand for what seems like miles. We dig and dig and build and build in the stinky, purple sand. It smells like heaven.
I am five years old and we're down the Cape at a rented beach house. It's the off season and the mornings are chilly. We're celebrating my early July birthday while the family is all together. I've just had my ears pierced and I'm thrilled and light and happy in the way only a five year old with newly pierced ears can be. I'm in my grandmother's room and I see a wrapped birthday present sitting on the shelf in her closet. "What is it?" I ask. She teases me. We bicker, giggling. It's a bicycle, we decide.
I am five years old or two or seven, it doesn't matter. We're down the Cape at a rented beach house and it wouldn't be our family week at the Cape without those tall, opaque-white tupperware containers of Gram's spaghetti and meatballs. There's always a little bit of burntness to the meatballs that make them just right.
Not to worry though. She was sure to yell at us when we brought juice into the living room and spilled it all over the carpet on Thanksgiving. And there was always that Mexican casserole she made that I hated. But if I were ever confused about my options at her house, I needed only to look to the sign on her fridge: "Tonight's menu, two choices: Take it, or Leave it."
I am every age, walking into Gramma's little yellow house, smelling the rich, meaty smell of Sunday dinner cooking. Sometimes when my husband cooks dinner, it smells exactly like my Grandmother's house and I can hardly bear it.