Writing is like being able to put life into a snow globe. It takes the things that are too big and scary and reduces them into a form that I can put away when I want and look at from a distance. It also takes all that’s good in life and captures it into something I can take out when I want and look at close up and keep forever. It makes the bad things into something I can hold…and the good things into something I can hold onto. Both help so much that I need that little souvenir of life.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

A Window Opens

I’ve mentioned my smelly car. One reason this is so extra-tragic is that I have a freakishly strong sense of smell. So for the first time in years, I’ve been driving around with my windows down. When did I start keeping them up all the time, anyway, and why? I’m sure it was to keep my hair from being a mess, but lately I’m thinking that messy hair might just be a small price to pay sometimes. I’m almost a little bit grateful to the RBO for reminding me what I’ve been missing.

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.

All that is sweet, delightful, and amiable in this world, in the serenity of the air, the fineness of seasons, the joy of light, the melody of sounds, the beauty of colors, the fragrancy of smells, the splendor of precious stones, is nothing else but Heaven breaking through the veil of this world, manifesting itself in such a degree and darting forth in such variety so much of its own nature.
– William Law


  1. Hi Tammy ... glad that things are getting back to normal in the bad odor department!

    You are so right about having the car windows down every so often. I have a sunroof in mine that I often forget about. It is nice when it is open and the warm sun shines down on me.

    I really enjoyed your description of going to the circus too.

    Kathy M.

  2. Sometimes, you gotta stop and smell the elephants.

  3. A lovely piece of writing, Tammy. I felt I was with you in your coffee-smelling car with the windows open. LOL
    I love to drive with my windows open (yes, my hair gets messed up) when I'm not on a freeway. I know Lindy, in the back seat, enjoys it, too. The back windows don't roll all the way down, just half-way (a child safety feature from the friendly Chevy folks) but it's enough for her to get her head out, but not her body.
    Glad your car is drivable now, anyway.

  4. You ate the apple! I love it!

  5. I liked your description of the circus and not being able to smell all those things when you were in your box... now and then I roll the windows down just because...

  6. Yes, I agree about some of the sensory things we miss when we keep the windows rolled up and the house closed up, but today--with this heat--I am grateful for the air conditioning...

  7. Tammy,

    I wondered, as I read this post of yours, if you really, truly don't know the depth of your own talent. You are truly gifted, my friend. Really. Great writing here.


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