04 August 2007

0 smells & the city


the city smells differently every day. almost as though chicago were standing at the cologne counter and weaving his way down the tester line.

there are the fish days (disgusting), the chocolate days (heaven), and the pot days (inexplicable). but yesterday, there was something altogether new. yesterday, the city smelled like kindergarten.

kindergarten was my year on the stage. an asbestos renovation and a revision in the busing policy left my tiny little neighborhood school bursting at the seams. some classes were moved to portable buildings out back. my class, for reasons unknown, was relocated to the stage, which stood proudly at the front of a room that pulled triple duty as cafeteria/gym/theatre.

the stage had this plush red velvet curtain that would remain open throughout the day so that people could come in and peer at us learning our maths and we could peer out at them buying their lunch tickets. the curtain would only be shut during lunch, which insensibly coincided with our nap time. little me couldn't sleep so i'd lie there, clutching my blanket and biting my nails, lulled into a restive calm by the sounds of clanging cuttlery and constant chatter.

but there was this smell. of aged velvet, marinara sauce, paste, tide, books caressed by dirty kid fingers and that distinctive fresh chill that blasts out when you first open a freezer. it is a smell that i will forever associate with sleep and the theater and being five years old.

some days you need to be reminded of such silly little things. when you're walking to work stupidly early on a friday morning after a sleepless thursday night spent clutching a blanket and biting your nails. chicago knows this. that is why we love him.

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