Memory of a scent

Some people remember in colours, or sounds.

I often find myself remembering in smells.

I was thinking about this the other day because I was sitting on the roof eating cherries and spitting the pits into the garden, and some combination of smells suddenly made me feel like I was back in high school, sitting on the beach at [undisclosed location], eating cherries with the hoppy sweet taste of beer and salty flavour of boy on my lips, spitting the pits into the river.

I miss the ability to go to the river every day during the summer, to abandon any sense of responsibility and loaf around in the warm embrace of the sun, especially when it’s winter time and I think wistfully back upon all those perfect, wonderful days that I was stuck inside making money because I’m trapped in a ruthless capitalist system. What happened in the years between now and then, I wonder, that I’m doing this instead of that? What possessed me to abandon the perfect scheme of abrogating all answerability in favour of this daily grind which eats away at my soul?

And I remember that cherry day vividly. D and I went down to the city in her old car, Butterscotch, the one with plastic bath tub ducks glued to the dashboard, and on the way home in the sticky summer heat we decided to stop by the river, and we did, and friends were there and we shared the fruit we had purchased at Gowans and splayed on the banks to unwind from our trip. It was the perfect trip ending, to round out the afternoon in the river. I swam a bit in the water, and we played on the submerged log, and I felt as though we were a rowdy bunch of puppies enjoying ourselves.

And there was some perfect combination of smells, the red ripe cherry juice and river water and sun baked sand, that came flooding back to me when I was sitting on the roof, so strongly that for a moment it was as though all the intervening years had yet to happen and I was young and stupid again, I was sitting on my old red towel with a book in my hand and a bag of cherries at my side. The sun was starting to set and the shadows were long and golden, the surface of the river rippled by a little breeze, the voices of my friends soft murmurs around me. I felt leaden and heavy, warmed through by the sun and gorged on summer fruit.

I remember that when we were driving home there was road construction, and there in front of the CalTrans worker I hopped out of the car and picked up a giant road cone which must have been three feet tall, and calmly stuffed it in the trunk. I had a towel wrapped around my legs and a raggedy black tank top on. I smiled, lips bright red with cherry juice, and he nodded back at me.

And then I was back on my roof, out of my stolen moment in time, and the phone was ringing and someone was at the door, the fridge wasn’t done defrosting and Loki was eating the carpeting. This is life now.

Or is it?