The Pictures on the Fridge This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.

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     My grandmother lives in Delaware, and once a year we head across the country to visit for a week to help her around the house, which looks the same as when I was a toddler, especially the kitchen. There’s still a long, white marble island in the center with sides that fold out to fit more people. The faded yellow curtains are always open, letting the light shine onto the silver sink. The phone on the wall is older than I am, and the cord has been stretched into the other rooms so many times that it now rests listlessly on the floor. The pictures on her refrigerator of my cousins and me have always been there, secured by magnets engraved with the logo of Hagley Gardens, the museum where my grandmother has been a tour guide for 20 years.

The pictures sit in layers, the oldest peeking from behind the more recent ones. One shows my cousin Mark, a freshman in high school, proudly displaying a mouth full of braces and squeezing his broad shoulders into his school’s football jersey. To the left is my brother’s kindergarten yearbook photo, the one where he has stitches under his eye. My grandmother says that it makes her laugh. At the very top of the freezer is a snapshot from 10 years ago of my brother and me riding a luggage cart at the airport, both of us fast asleep as my content parents push us and the bags along.

But my favorite picture sits right in the middle, directly at eye level. I am four; my brother is in the middle of his terrible twos. We are seated at the oak table in the living room of the condo my grandparents used to rent in Tucson until my grandfather succumbed to cancer.

I wonder if I remember this day because I’ve seen the picture so many times, but I can recall the light, the weather, and the pink leggings I was wearing. We are engaged in a heated game of Candyland. I have my head in my hands, obviously frustrated, and my dark brown hair contrasts sharply with my brother’s white blond mop. He’s sticking out his tongue in determination as he moves his piece along the board. The gears in my head are turning. I know he’s cheating, but I also know that if I do anything about it, he’ll run to Mom.

Every time I see this picture, I smile. It was taken over a decade ago, but I still see myself in that little girl. Her competitive spirit is fierce, but she recognizes the consequences of her actions. Although she wants nothing more than to move her brother’s piece back so she can win, she holds back. And my brother is oblivious to the plight of those around him, always content to do things his way.

This kitchen is itself a photograph, a perfect glimpse into the world as it was 40 years ago. You can see the scuff marks in front of the stove where my ever-patient father stood as a boy, watching the cookies rise. The crack in the tile by the closet is from when my uncle dropped a brick on his way to the backyard, always trying to impress my grandfather with his strength. There’s a burn mark on the coun-ter from my grandfather’s pipe, and the cabinet door to the left of the freezer doesn’t work quite right - it’s still recovering from my aunt swinging from it 40 years ago.

Somehow, I doubt my grandmother will be remodeling the kitchen anytime soon. That room stands as a memorial to those who have passed through it. It will forever be a snapshot of how life used to be before we all grew up and moved on. And whenever we happen to forget who we really are or where we come from, that kitchen, that reminder, is only a plane ride away.

This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.






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