This past weekend, I went to see my grandma up in Boston. I was a little nervous because I haven’t been up there sans Mom in quite a few years, but I was pleasantly surprised! Nan is doing relatively well (she’s still sassy as ever), I got to spend some time with my uncles and everyone got along with Spencer and Nina! Success!

I used to spend so much time at Nan’s as a youngster – we used to stay with her every summer until I was in high school – and as soon as I ascended the front porch stairs and entered the modest foyer, all those childhood memories came flooding back.

Nan’s kitchen and the den that’s right off the kitchen are basically the hubs of the house. As far back as I can remember, we all used to congregate there to eat and drink and laugh and fight. Poppy would keep to himself in the den, content in a pack of Marlboros and a near constant stream of game shows sprinkled intermittently with the local news.

At one point or another, each of my 8 aunts and uncles and any combination of their children lived in this house, including myself. There are 5 bedrooms and I’m  pretty sure I’ve lived in each of them. 1.5 bathrooms which, predictably, were fodder for many brawls between the 10 or so girls who lived there at any given time.

My cousins and I used to hang out in the cellar during the hot summer months, partly because it was much cooler down there (the house is so old it doesn’t have AC), but mostly because that’s where Nan kept the popsicles and soda and snacks, and she would unfailingly indulge our sugar cravings away from our parents’ watchful eyes. When we’d had our fill of grape sodas and creamsicles, we’d run out into the backyard via the storm door, past the tiny vegetable garden and through the fresh sheets drying on the line to play in the shady alcove of trees at the back of the yard. Once we got a little older, we were allowed to go explore the woods surrounding the resevoir. Us younger ones loved the berry patches and rolling hills while the older ones just loved being away from the grown-ups so they could smoke and swear and pretend to be grown-ups.

This visit only proved that, thankfully, some things never change. Nan still tells bawdy jokes, smokes like a chimney and curses like a sailor, which is immediately followed by her old standby disclaimer, “Oh, that’s awful! I promise I’ll be good tomorrow… but you know that’s a lie!” The percolator and the butter dish that I remember from my childhood are still dutifully perched on the gas range and kitchen table, respectively. And while some furniture may have since been rearranged, the den still feels exactly the same, save for Poppy’s absence.

It was a wonderful trip and I’m really glad that Spencer was able to share it with me…

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