My grandparents grew up in a small town outside of College Station, Texas (where Texas A&M is). They got married, which in my mind, basically meant the entire town was in our family. I remember driving along the dirt roads as a kid, sandwiched between my grandparents in their Lincoln and my grandma telling me where her cousin and high school best friend and our uncle's sister-in-law all lived. It was like she knew the entire town and they were all a part of our family tree.
One of my great grandmothers never learned to drive. She lived across the street from her church and down the block from her hair salon - what else did an older lady need? The only store in town - an oversized convenience store with meat and produce, honestly - was a short walk away. I remember making that trek with my cousins on summer days with a few dollars in our pockets to buy cartoon character-shaped ice cream bars and outdated Archie comics. We would bring them back to our nanny's house and fight over who got the prized perch on the shiny red barstool that was so easy to spin around in. The best seat in the house, though, was always Nanny's lap - no matter how big you got, she would rock you and call you sugar the way that only your great grandmother can. My childhood self was terrified of the swing set in Nanny's yard. It had been there since my mom was a kid and had splintered wooden seats and wasn't anchored to the ground at all, so the front legs popped up as you swung higher and higher. I was convinced that one day, one of us would find a way to swing so high that we flipped over the top bar. Part of me was thrilled at the prospect, but I mostly just learned to jump off of the swing gracefully before I got too scared.
My other great grandmother (who is still alive at the age of 98!) lived on the other side of the small town. Her house was always a menagerie of cats and dogs of all ages and sizes who I constantly begged to take home. It was also the house with the aforementioned snake and rabbits and cows that could be seen in a field in the distance. My grandparents lived in Houston but kept a mobile home, known simply as "the trailer," nearby since they visited so often. I remember its scratchy pink sofa and making pallets in corners on the shag carpet when cousins and aunts and uncles filled the space over long weekend trips. I remember staining my socks with the red dirt and sitting on the porch swing, wishing it would go as high as that old wooden swing set. I clamored for tractor rides sitting behind my grandpa and counted down until I was old enough to drive it by myself through the wire fence in the back and making circles around the property. Little did I know I was merely doing his yard work on a riding mower for him. We played outside and ate fresh tomatoes standing over the sink and drank in fresh air not available in Houston.
My grandma, cousin, and me (age 5-6?) on the trailer's porch swing. I had this pic in a scrapbook I made as a teenager which explains the crazy scissors.