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A Trip To Grandma's House
Crammed in the back seat of our tiny car, I wondered to myself who in their right mind would by a Kia Rio for a family of five. I also wondered why we live so far away from my grandparents if my mom was going to want to see them all the time. Thankful for one thing, that no trip to Grandma and Grandpa’s would be the same without Stephanie. We’ve been best friends for our whole lives, as we found out at age 16 when we found a picture of her in a box of pictures from when I was little.
“How old were Grandma and Grandpa when they got married?” Stephanie asked.
“Grandpa was 19, and Grandma was 18. It was less than three months after she graduated,” I told her.
“That’s so romantic,” said Stephanie. Steph has always been a sucker for a love story, since she would probably bet someone the left side of her brain that she would marry her high school boyfriend. (She even started using his last name.)
“Tell me more stories about them,” said Stephanie.
“I don’t really know any more.” I told her. There were nine hours of car ride left, with my sisters and mom. I decided there was nothing more to do but sleep.
“Jessica, wake up!” Stephanie shouted. It sounded like she was scared. My eyes popped open. We were in a parking lot, in my mother’s car, just the two of us.
“Where did they go?” I asked.
“Where did who go?” Stephanie asked.
“My mom and the twins,” I said, looking out the window to a familiar landscape. Almost too familiar, I thought. “Where are we?”
“Jess, your mom and the girls didn’t come with us. I followed the map exactly, and it says we’re in Entiat but this isn’t what it looked like last time I was here. I stopped at a gas station in Yakima. The guy working there said that Entiat is a ‘blast from the past’ and winked at me. I didn’t really think anything of it, but maybe he was trying to tell me that they did renovations or something. Isn’t this the block?”
Looking across the street, I saw an empty hill where not only should my grandparents’ house be, but also, my great grandma’s and uncle’s houses should be. My family owned the whole block, and right now, the block was empty.
I picked up my cell phone to call my grandma. Before I started dialing I looked at the time. “2:15 PM Friday, August 21, 1967”
“Something weird is going on, Steph. I’m almost positive that when I fell asleep my mom and sisters were here,” I said, dialing my grandma’s cell phone number.
“Your call could not be completed as dialed. This number is no longer in service,” said the recording that answered my grandma’s phone. I called my great grandma.
“Hello?” said a semi-familiar voice.
“Hey Grandma,” I said. “Is Grandma Carol there?”
“Sweetheart, I think you have the wrong number.”
“Can I please just talk to Carol?” I asked my great grandmother. Surely they were playing a trick on me.
“Hello?” said my grandma’s voice. But no, it didn’t sound the same. Somehow it sounded younger. Much younger.
“Grandma?” I asked.
“Um, no. This is Carol Vradenburg. I’m 16 years old. I’m no one’s grandma,” she said.
“Oh. Um. Okay.” I said, and hung up the phone. “Something weird is definitely going on, Steph,” I said.
“Let’s go to the school and ask someone,” suggested Steph.
“Good idea,” I said. “Aunt Heather is probably still at work.”
As Stephanie and I walked up the front steps of Entiat High School towards the district office, I got the chills. I’d been to Entiat a million times, and even the school looked different. We walked through the doors and followed the signs that led us to the office. Stephanie and I exchanged glances as we saw the secretaries in the office. They looked like a scene straight out of ‘Hairspray’.
“Is Heather Long here?” I asked the lady at the front desk.
“I’m sorry, but there is not Heather Long at Entiat School District. Are you thinking of Debbie or Leanne Long?”
I gave the secretary a weird look. Debbie and Leanne Long were my Grandpa’s sisters, but neither of them lived in Entiat anymore. “Oh, no. Someone told me that a Heather Long would register us for school.”
“I can help you with that,” the secretary said. “Can I get your names?”
“I’m Jessica Frederick and this is Stephanie Tewalt.” I said.
The secretary filled out our paperwork and said that school started on Monday. “We’ll assign someone to show you around,” she added. “Do you know anyone at this school?”
“Carol Vradenburg?” I said hesitantly.
“Sure thing, sweetheart.”
“What do you think you’re doing?!” Stephanie asked angrily as we left the office.
“I think I’m trying to figure out what’s going on here, Stephanie. This is way too elaborate to be a trick. Who would move four houses and rebuild a school just to trick two high school girls?”
“Call your mom,” Stephanie demanded.
I pulled out my phone, dialed my mom and put it on speaker phone.
“Mom, something weird is going on here. I think we traveled back in time.” Stephanie and I told her the whole story, and of course, she didn’t believe us.
“Well, I guess we’ve got to go along with it,” Stephanie said.
I looked at Stephanie. She was wearing shorts and a tank top, as was I. Normalcy for us, because it was August, after all. “Maybe we should try to blend in.” I said.
We got in the car and drove to Wenatchee.
“I don’t know where anything is,” I told Stephanie. Even Wenatchee was completely different.
Finally, we found a Sears, and parked in the parking lot. Getting out of the car, we noticed people were looking at us weird. Stephanie and I weren’t dressed like any of them, but that’s why we were there. She pointed at the car, and I realized that that must have been why we were getting weird looks. Our car didn’t look like any of the other cars in the parking lot.
“Don’t make us stick out even more,” I told Stephanie.
We walked into Sears and were greeted by three different women who worked there.
“I thought that only happened in movies!” Stephanie whispered to me.
“Can we help you?” one of the ladies asked.
“Well,” I said. “We’re not from around here, and we would like to blend in.”
By the end of the day, Stephanie and I had about 8 new outfits each. We were ready for whatever was coming.
The next few days were spent in a hotel in Wenatchee formulating stories to use on Monday. Our story was finalized and recapped at least six times on Sunday night. Monday morning came around with lots of butterflies. It felt like starting a new school, which was a feeling the two of us knew all too well.
Of course, it seemed way too early to get up by the time we rolled out of bed on Monday morning. As soon as we got dressed, we couldn’t help but laugh at each other; we looked ridiculous.
“Well, we can’t wear our regular clothes and expect to fit in,” I reminded Stephanie.
“I know,” she said. “But we just look so silly!”
At 8:15 we pulled in to the Entiat High School parking lot. People all around were still staring at our car, but at least our clothes weren’t different, right? All eyes were on us as we made our way to the office. The small student population at EHS was always excited for new students, so two in one class was a special treat, especially since the two new girls had a strange car, which would definitely be a topic of discussion among the males here.
I first spotted her standing by the counter in the office. Of course, she looked a lot different than I was used to, but I recognized her from pictures I’d seen of her.
“There’s Grandma!” I told Stephanie.
“Here they are!” said the secretary to Grandma as we walked into the office.
“Hi, I’m Carol. I’m going to be showing you around,” said my grandmother with a smile.
“I’m Jessica, and this is Stephanie,” I told her.
As my grandma showed Stephanie and me to our classes, she asked all kinds of questions about our lives. I felt sort of bad telling her that we were from California and our parents were in the Peace Corps. She may not have known that she was my grandma, but I did, and it didn’t feel right to lie to her.
At lunch, Stephanie and I found grandma and she introduced us to her friends. While we were eating, her friend Janie asked Stephanie where we lived. Panicked, Steph looked at me. A thousand thoughts ran through my head at once. I decided to go with the truth.
“We’re actually staying at a motel in Wenatchee,” I said.
“Why?!” everyone asked.
Here’s where the truth had to go out the window. “Because our parents are in Africa, so we don’t really have a house.”
“Well you can’t stay in a hotel,” Grandma said “That’s way too expensive. I’m related to a lot of people here in Entiat, so I’ll find a place for you to stay.”
After school Grandma, Stephanie and I got into the car and drove to the motel to get our stuff. Then Grandma directed us to her house.
As we walked into the house, I smelled the familiar scents that my great grandma’s house always smelled like. I even saw some of the same furniture.
“My parents aren’t here yet. They’re both at work. Let’s go to my room,” said Grandma.
“Who’s here?” said a whiney voice from the living room.
“Friends!” Grandma shouted.
We went to my grandmother’s teenage bedroom. She had posters of The Beatles and The Beach Boys. We sat on her bed and looked at magazines. All of a sudden, my phone rang in my purse.
“What the heck?!” my grandma asked.
“I’ll be right back! I said, running in to the bathroom. When I got there, I pulled my phone out of my purse and I saw that I had a missed call from my brother, so I called him back.
“Where are you?” he asked.
“Um… 1967.” I responded.
“Stephanie and I drove to Grandma and Grandpa’s.”
“Yeah. It was a bad idea.”
“What happened?” he asked.
“Time warp. Long story. I’ll tell about it when I get home,” I said before hanging up the phone, turning it off and putting it back in my purse.
“Sorry about that,” I said when I got back to my grandma’s room.
“It’s okay,” said Grandma. “Stephanie explained it to me.”
“Stephanie explained WHAT?!” I nearly shouted at Stephanie.
“That when we lived in California they asked us to test the first cell phones,” Stephanie told me.
“Oh yeah,” I said. “Don’t tell anyone. It’s top secret.”
“Carol, Donna said you have friends over,” said my great grandma, pushing through the door to my grandma’s bedroom.
“Jessica, Stephanie, this is my mom, Dorothy.”
“Are you girls staying for dinner?” Grandma Dot asked.
“Mom, their parents are in Africa and they need somewhere to stay. Do you think they could stay at Uncle John’s?” Grandma asked.
“I can’t give people permission to stay at other people’s houses. They can stay here. Dinner will be ready in fifteen minutes,” Grandma Dot said.
Walking into the dining room for dinner, I saw my great Grandpa Lyle sitting at the table.
“Who’s that?” Steph asked.
“My great grandpa,” I told her. “He died when I was three.”
“Dad, Donna, this is Jessica and Stephanie,” my grandma introduced me to her father and sister. “They’re going to be staying with us for a while.”
Dinner went by peacefully and uneventfully. I caught myself a few times accidentally saying “Grandma” instead of my grandmother’s first name that I was supposed to be using.
“That’s Rick. Isn’t he dreamy?” my grandma said, pointing to a boy at the end of the hall. I looked down there to see who she was talking about and realized it was my grandpa.
“How long have you been dating?” Stephanie asked.
“Are you kidding?” Grandma asked. “I’ve never even talked to him! He’s a senior!”
“Let me handle this,” Stephanie said, marching down the hall.
“Aren’t you going to stop her?!” Grandma asked me.
“There’s no point in trying,” I said. “She does what she wants.”
Stephanie came back down the hallways towards us.
“Well?” I asked.
“Don’t worry about it.” Stephanie said smugly.
Grandma shot me a dirty look, and all I could do was shrug my shoulders.
The rest of the day passed, and soon we were home, sitting in my grandma’s room listening to The Beach Boys records. The phone rang and we could hear Donna walk into the kitchen and answer it.
“Carol!” Donna shouted. “It’s for you! And it’s a boooooy!”
“Please!” said Grandma. “I’m 16 years old. Boys should be calling me!” She left the room and walked into the kitchen.
“What did Grandpa say when you talked to him?” I asked Stephanie.
“That he would call her tonight!” Stephanie replied, giggling.
“Grandma ran back into the room, beaming. “He asked me to go to the game with him Friday!” she said. “This means I have three days to get ready!”
“Grandma!” I nearly shouted. Stephanie shot me a furtive glance to remind me that my grandma didn’t know she’s my grandma.
“I mean…” I started. “That… My grandma says you shouldn’t over prepare yourself for a first date. You don’t want him to think you tried too hard.”
“Oh,” said Grandma. “What should I do then?”
“Just wear what you wore to school,” I told her. “Then, if he asks you on a second date, we can get you all ready for that one.”
Soon, it was Friday, and Grandma and Grandpa went on their first date, after numerous pep talks each from me and Stephanie.
Stephanie and I went to the game just in case Grandma needed moral support. When the game was over, Grandma came and told us that Grandpa was giving her a ride home.
“That’s so sweet!” Stephanie gushed on the way back to Grandma’s house. I wasn’t really paying attention, because I didn’t actually want to listen to her talk about how everyone was in love but me.
We got to the house and went to grandma’s room to get ready for bed. There was a knock on the door, and I went to answer it. The door opened to reveal Grandpa Lyle standing in the doorway.
“Where is Carol?” he asked.
“She rode home with… A friend,” I told him.
“Which friend?” he asked.
“Rick Long,” Stephanie sang from inside the bedroom.
“What?” Grandpa Lyle asked, furiously.
“She went to the game with him, and he offered her a ride home so we told her we would meet her here,” Stephanie said, walking to the door.
“She didn’t have permission to go to the game with him!” he shouted.
Just then, we heard the front door open, and grandma come in.
“CAROL!” my great grandpa shouted, walking away.
Half an hour later my grandma danced into the room, smiling from ear to ear.
“Tell me all about it!” Stephanie said.
I drifted quietly into sleep, not wanting to hear the details of my grandma’s love life. Not that I would admit it or anything, but I was also a little bit jealous that Stephanie and my grandma were better friends than me and my grandma.
The next morning at breakfast, Grandpa Lyle announced that Carol would not be allowed to see Rick Long anymore. Needless to say, Grandma, Stephanie and I spent that whole Saturday sitting in Grandma’s room planning a way around her father’s newest rule. I am pretty sure I was the only one that didn’t cry.
Finally, a decision was made. Stephanie, Grandma and I would tell Grandpa Lyle and Grandma Dot that we were going to the drive in movie. We would go, and park on one side. Grandpa would come to our car to retrieve Grandma. The plan worked and we ended up doing that almost every weekend. Grandma had to be careful not to talk to him at school, because if Donna saw them talk, she would tell Grandpa Lyle. Whenever Grandpa called the house, he would ask for Stephanie or I, and we would pass on the message.
Eventually the school year passed, and Grandpa Rick graduated. Since Grandpa wouldn’t be at school anymore, Grandpa Lyle decided that grandma could date anyone she wanted to, under one condition; he had to eat dinner with the family. He was coming over that Sunday night.
Sunday morning came, and we all went to church. Afterwards, we came home and scrambled, making sure everything was perfect for Grandma and Grandpa’s first dinner together.
Grandpa got there right on time, and everything went as planned. We had sent Donna to a friend’s house so she wouldn’t mess anything up.
As Grandpa was leaving he said that he enjoyed his dinner. I told him I was sure it would be the first of many.
That night after things had settled down, I announced that Stephanie and I would be leaving “back to California” in the morning. I was kind of worried that we would be in trouble for being gone for almost a year.
We stayed up late, talking about memories of the year we were there, and plans for the future. Grandma was upset that we weren’t going to be there next year. The chatter continued until after I fell asleep.
“Jess. Jess! We’re here,” Stephanie said.
“Home already?” I thought to myself. I didn’t even remember getting in the car. My eyes opened and I sat up, we were parked in the driveway of my grandma’s house. I saw my sisters hugging my cousins and wondered what was going on. I decided not to ask.
That night, sitting at my grandma’s dining room table, I asked my grandma to tell us a story about when she was dating my grandpa.
“Well, my dad didn’t want me to see your grandpa,” Grandma said. “So I had these two friends staying with me that helped us sneak around. Come to think of it, their names were Jessica and Stephanie. I never saw them again… “