Friday, March 23, 2007

Whoa, Get a Whiff of This!

I love city life. Today is one of the first warm days of '07. It's not hot, but it is warm. And it's the first day where I could distinctly smell the city's sweat.

Ok, I know it sounds gross, but I love it. The warm humidity cooks all the city smells: the dirt, the grim, the cement dust flying in the air from whichever construction site is nearby. It cooks them all up and then we breathe in that steamy stench of the concoction.

And again, I know it sounds gross, but I can't help it - it's the smell of home. Maybe it's because I love New York so much. That city has the most potent city sweat (though often mixed with garbage). And DC's smell has become comforting to me too. That means I'm really starting to love this old town.

Other smells I love: opening a new book for the first time, a cake baking, lilies, wet grass, the scummy lake water and the salty ocean, my sweet puppy, snow, peanut butter, a Tennessee tailgate, basil, wood, fresh warm laundry, my aunt's old house, my grandfather's house, olive oil, chlorine from a swimming pool, cigars and my favorite smell of all - my momma.

Awhile back, I was hemming and hawing over a boy. What to do, what's right, what do I want, the usual indecisiveness you'd expect from me. I was talking it over with a friend, and she asked the funniest question, "Do you like his smell?" And it was the right question. Because our smells are not the scents we try to cover them up with. The Old Spice, the cucumber melon deodorant, the strawberry body wash or cocoa lotion (why do all girlie products smell like food? the way to a man's heart is through his stomach? is that it?).

Our scents are our natural, human scents. That little boy scout who was lost in the mountains last weekend was found by a dog who sniffed his dirty, worn t-shirt. At some level, we as humans are still animals.

They say that scents are attached to memories. Maybe I love city sweat because of all the good times I've had in city summers. Maybe I loved that boy because I loved his scent.

Scents are fleeting, just like moments. We get little whiffs of happiness and then it's gone. And the scents associated with those brief instants serve to remind us of what we once had, what we once felt so that we can have it again and feel it again for even a fraction of a second...before it's gone...


template by