Years ago, someone gave my family tickets to box seats at the circus. No question it was cool. We had our own little suite with private bathroom and everything. But it made me realize it’s not always so bad to live among the common folk. There were some things I genuinely missed while being hermetically sealed in our little Plexiglas room in the sky. I sort of missed the down-and-dirty earthiness of the experience that is the circus I remembered from my childhood: the smells of elephant musk and popcorn and excitement. The guy with change in his apron hocking “Ice Cold Coke!” from the dark auditorium stairs and people waving sparkling souvenirs-on-a-stick all around us. Breathing and bodies and clapping and peanut shells. That disco ball light thing that showered the audience in stars so that we could look down and see the actual circus lights touching us, just like the magic all around, making us a part of it in one sparkling moment.
Driving with my windows down is a little like that. I find myself wanting to drive faster just for the exhilaration of it. There are whole new layers of experience coming in those windows. The sounds rush in my ears, and as the visual scenery flashes by in a blur of houses-stores-signs-fields-trees, so flashes the olfactory scenery in a blur of backyard grill-fast food-cut grass-mimosa. And the humid wind is cool-slick on my arms and swirles my hair in a mad summer frenzy.
For a while I am back in my big sister’s orange-and-black 1969 Camaro convertible with the top down. Or even my own first car with the broken air conditioner.
The smell is much, much better, by the way, thanks to your suggestions. The thing that really seemed to do it? The coffee grounds. Was going to try the apple, but it turned out someone had eaten it. Which was okay, because I got a new one at the grocery store and used it to get rid of the coffee ground smell, which it turns out is oddly out of place in a car. It actually smells good in there now. Thank you so much!
Still, I’m going to try to remember to roll down the windows. Just sometimes. I’d forgotten there’s magic out there in the summer air just waiting to swirl in.