Why does the air smell like memories? I breath them in at night, during walks along a warm curb cast in the golden glow of spilling street lamps. The cold grass: reminds me of past Sundays, throwing discs by the riverside park. Wet pavement: the nights you used to take me to the wood-planked street-front of Old Town’s candy barrel shops. Cold pastureland: the old ranch in Santa Paula, where we spent the night on a trampoline and woke under a sea of stars next under a tabby and blanket of dewdrops. The aroma of trapped dust blowing in through the screen door for the first time this spring: reminds me of summer lunch breaks on the lawn with a mayonnaise-stained Nancy Drew novel. Fresh flower blossoms: that one Easter week I ran up and down the green carpeted hill at church in a white tee and arms far too brown for only mid-March. Musty, molded book spines: the time I first read Jane Eyre and fell in love not with the story, but with the yellowed pages and pink bookmark that smelled like old libraries. Coffee beans draining through the filter: the quiet hour after a bacon breakfast, when dad and Evan would sit in a plastic chair, toes bare, on the front lawn. The cold cave-like moisture of a swamp cooler: being blown silly by the humid gust at age seven in nothing but my underwear. Spice cake rising on an oven rack: waking up on a school day to a loaf of banana bread, as I smeared a wad of salted butter into its steamy center.
These nights, I can’t shake the sense that something should have happened; or that it came and, like a memory carried on the wind, left just as quickly. Whatever language this past world speaks, it feels like an ache. I can’t decide what feels stronger – the stab of its absence or the chill of its revisit. All I know is these haunting scents connect my presence with the past, and the air is somehow sweeter for sharing them. And, if by God’s mercy I’m able to sense where they are leading, one day I hope to find it and regain a strand of what was lost.