Yesterday, my sister made our grandma’s party cake and I CRIED. It tasted just like it. She made that cake every 4th of July. The kids played on the slip-in-slide and it reminded me of when we’d go to my grandparent’s house for the 4th and play on the yellow slip-in-slide. It was literally a long sheet of plastic, back then. The thought of it is funny, now. One of the adults would stand there with the garden hose and we’d slide so fast down that thing we’d slide completely off of it and into the mud and grass. No pools to catch us at the end. And we’d eat those red, white and blue popsicles, whatever they’re called. And watermelon. And i’d pass on the potato salad because there was always too much mayonnaise in it. My uncles would tease me about how tall I was and tell me I was going to be a basketball player and my aunts and grandma’s friends would reassure me that they were model legs. And i’d clip playing cars to the bike spokes with clothespins and speed down the street with a sparkler in my hand. And the neighborhood smelled like smoke from the fireworks and grills, exhaust fumes from rickety old pickup trucks, wet grass, skin-so-soft and banana boat, hot concrete and freedom because America. I’d wear cutoff jean shorts rolled up at the bottom and one of grandma’s scarves tied up into a tube top, and the REAL flip flops that left blisters between your toes, so i’d kick them off and go barefoot until an adult told me to put my shoes back on and, I did, until they weren’t looking and i’d kick them off again. And Caroline and Hurley would be grilling on their back deck that Hurley built with his own hands and Caroline’s hair was always teased really high and I wondered why she tanned so much that she looked like a burnt chicken but her jewelry was always really pretty and she never went without lipstick. And Mrs. Worrell would wave when she returned from spending time with her family. The whole thing was like small town America and it was perfect. Old, plastic lawn chairs with metal frames and the plastic would be worn because of the sun so you’d have to maneuver yourself so you wouldn’t fall through but also avoid sitting on the metal or else you’d get burnt. If you were to get a bird’s eye view of the area, you’d see families in their yards grilling and setting off fireworks, kids running through sprinklers, pine trees and big fields and cows and horses and corn and train tracks and big trucks rolling down the highway. It was nice. I’d give anything to go back and see my grandma coming down the back steps with the party cake in hand.

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