when i think of summer, i think of my grandfather on my mother's side. kingsburg, a suburb of fresno. butted up against fields of drying grapes. the smell of sunshine, raisins, wine. the backyard was mostly shaded, save the swimming pool meticulously cared for by my water baby of a grandpa. he was a lifeguard, an avid swimmer, a boy of the sun. the concrete was so hot it would burn my feet and i sat under the shaded awning, swinging back and forth on a vinyl cushioned sofa with giant blue and green flowers watching chico, the feisty dachsund run in circles in the sun before demanding to be let back inside. my legs would sweat, skin sticking in the warbled heat and you could see waves in the air, silver and mirrored. inside, my grandmother would make lunch, no small people allowed in the kitchen, ever. there was a crystal lazy susan in the middle of the dining room table and lunch would find it stocked with baby pickles, miracle whip, other things i couldn't stomach but pretended to like so that i could turn it round and round as many times as possible without her noticing. we ate a lot of tuna salad.
my grandfather taught me how to play blackjack at that table. smooth, polished wood and quiet slips of his hands to show me his cards before acting as though i could win by myself. i learned the hierarchy of poker but never really cared to understand the game.
the guest bathroom looked like a hotel. fancy soaps and gilded dishes, air conditioned and double sinks. i worried my grandparents with the amount of time i spent in there, feeling like a queen, fondling antique mirrored trays.
i spent a lot of time entertaining myself with games and books and the typewriter and the contraption in the guest room where you could strap yourself in and hang upside down, good for your alignment i overheard.
i was the princess of kingsburg. drying grapes and chlorine and lazy susans.