Jessica Gillich: Lellie’s Place: Essay : August 2020

Southern Legitimacy Statement: This piece details a memory I share with my little sister while visiting my mother’s best friend, who was born and raised in the South. She ran her household as if she still lived in Oklahoma even after she moved to California. I was born and raised in Southern California. I am currently studying at Brigham Young University.

Lellie’s Place

The garden smelled of rosemary and thyme, basil and oregano.  Just short of that, the weathered, wooden gate with the rusty latch swung open to welcome young visitors.  Perhaps the phrase “swung open” is generous; it scraped the ground below as it opened inward, never quite opening wide enough for a grownup to step through with ease.  And just short of that, six steep, uneven concrete steps ascended the hill from the street to the pathway which led to the gate.  Bushes lined the hill to provide shelter and respite from the heat to small creatures, much smaller than my sister and me.  That was where we threw them.

We laughed as the snails hit the asphalt below, finding joy in the irrational desire to displace them.  They bounced and rolled until coming to a halt, whether of their own accord or by the unforgiving rumble of a passing automobile.  A careful selection, an arm pulled back, a haphazard release.  My sister kissed them, one by one, before she let them fly.

The condo was too small to contain our laughter, so we played outside, beyond the steep, uneven concrete steps, beyond the weathered, wooden gate with its rusty latch, beyond the garden that smelled of basil and oregano, rosemary and thyme.