A. and I went to visit my grandma Saturday night. She lives about an hour away on seven acres of wooded property in the middle of suburbia. Indeed, it's hard to see the gravel road leading up to her house from the street, and A. almost missed it were it not for his Dukes of Hazzard-like turn in the middle of the road (he's adapting to driving in America so well). Yet once the gravel was crunching beneath the tires as we drove along fields lined with tall Fir trees, it felt miles from the endless rows of McMansions.
My Gram welcomed us inside. Made us each a drink (Scotch for A., vodka for me). Took us out to the back porch where hummingbirds freely buzzed among the feeders and rhododendrons and Gram's chocolate brown dachshund bounced around noisily demanding that her favorite chew toy be thrown.
After chatting for a bit, my Gram announced that she needed to use the restroom, so I took the opportunity to show A. around the place. We walked out to the barn where I pointed to the old sheep stalls and the back field where they used to graze. We sauntered back to the house but detoured along a concrete path down towards the storage shed in the basement. The path was overgrown with blackberry bolts and various flowers that hadn't been cut back. A. stood in front of me holding the hand of mine that wasn't holding onto my cane as I hobbled down the small steps. When we went as far as we could, we turned to head back up.
"Just a second." A. turned to step under an old apple tree.
I followed, half smirking as I knew what he was thinking. He looked around the ground at the various sticks. "Turn around. Up against the tree," he said as he pulled me toward the trunk. I did as I was told.
He picked up a hunk of wood about an inch or so in diameter.
"No, that's too big," I told him. Though it didn't stop him from whacking me on the ass with it a few times. I rolled my eyes. It stung a little, but clearly he knew nothing about switches. I turned to my right and saw a nice green, fairly smooth switch growing out of a branch about even to my head. "Here." I picked it off and handed it to him.
"Ah, that's better."
Well, yes and no.
I mean, it definitely stung a lot more. But, well, it stung a lot more!
Before I know it, he's pulling down my trousers and panties right there in my Gram's yard.
Part of me was thinking, omg, my Gram is going to hear. She's going to tell my aunt that here I am, after not coming to visit in over six years, bringing some British guy around and getting all kinky in her yard.
The other part of me was grabbing the branch just above my head, feeling really warm and squirmy. A. felt his hand up my shirt and onto my breasts.
"Are your nipples still tender?" I nodded. PMS has been extra fun this month. He brushed along my left breast, though at that moment I totally wanted him to go ahead and squeeze. "Keep still," A. ordered as I reflexively tried to dodge the switch.
Did I mention that it stung? Thank God for the vodka earlier.
I mumbled something about my Gram hearing between oowws, though I know she can't hear well. But, what if she came looking for us? What if she was in the living room looking out the glass patio door and down at us?
Yet, wasn't holding onto to this tree branch above my head as I got whipped one of the most erotic things we've ever done?
"You so like this tree," A. teased as he gave me a few hand spanks.
"You're the one who picked it out." I giggled. "Maybe you're a...dendraphile."
"No, you're the dendraphile. Holding onto that tree like that. You so want it," he kept teasing as he pulled my pants back up. I adjusted my shirt, grabbed my cane, rubbed my backside and headed back up the steps.
"Where did you guys go? You've been gone forever." Well, at least Gram didn't hear anything.
We went out for dinner and after salty Mexican, returned to her place to look at old photos and knick knacks until the wee hours of the morning before finally heading back to downtown Portland.
I didn't sleep well that night, though not for the reason you might imagine. The sting wore off after twenty minutes or so. But, as noted above, I haven't been to visit my Gram in over six years, before the surgery that made me so sick. Physically it's hard for me to get out and about on my own much of the time.
However, as I mentioned in this post, I didn't grow up with my Gram. Or my biological father. I didn't really get to know them until I was 24 and spent part of the year living with that side of the family. My father was more ambivalent about my presence in his life, but my grandparents and aunt were happy to have me around. Happy to spend warm summer evenings, a lot like last Saturday, telling me about a part of me I never knew. About the life I might have had. Like spending summers with them on their ranch in Dallas riding my own pony instead of living with my histrionic mother in low-income housing eating Kraft macaroni and cheese.
My grandpa in particular spent hours telling me all the family history. About farming. About being a Navy cook on a ship during WWII. About hunting with his Native-American friends in Eastern Oregon. He talked about building bookshelves for me. And a little chair because I'm short and don't fit well in regular chairs.
And when he died that summer it felt like the most unfair thing that ever happened to me.
As I got up Sunday morning while A. remained asleep, that staggering loss came back in the same flood of tears it usually does. In the same ache in the middle of my chest. In the less palpable, but more unbearable pain seeping throughout my being. All those "whys?" All that terrible unfairness.
But then I remembered A. and I under the apple tree.
I cannot go back and erase the mistake my mother made in never telling my father about me. I cannot go back and capture the childhood I might have had if she had told him. I will never again listen to my Pop tell stories on the back porch as he sits flicking his cigarette ash into an old Alpo can next to him.
Yet, right now, there is a lot that is sweet and wonderful and beautiful.
Like memories of being kinky under an apple tree.