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The Smell of the City

I live in a beautiful city on a breath-taking island in the Pacific Ocean. The downtown harbour is almost visible from my fourth floor balcony.

The climate is temperate, sub-Mediterranean  and we live in a rainforest, but it’s not a tropical one. The local ecosystem is one of the most endangered, and we have many parks and greenspaces to frolic and play in.

I hate the smell of my city.

I walked out of my apartment building this evening and took a big breath of fresh air.

It smelled like exhaust, grit, dead leaves and asphalt.

This smell has a sense of disillusionment, of lost dreams and hopes and of harder times to come. The smell of my city isn’t a pleasant one.

Give me the smell of my home – wood smoke, wet grass, big ol’ smelly dogs, the smell of horse fields and fresh wind. The highway beside my childhood home never left a lingering smell of exhaust, and the noise was a comfort to fall asleep to.

Give me the smell of a Scout Camp – fresh air, the smell of dripping coniferous trees, damp grasses and thriving mosses. The smell of friendship and a well-meaning snowball down the back of your shirt. The smell of my sleeping bag in my tent. Let my olfactory sensors take delight in the crisp air, filling my lungs with a sense of well-being and security.

Give me the smell of the ocean, salty and one I miss.  Living in saturated air, I can no longer smell the ocean unless I’ve been away from it for far too long. But I like to go to the ocean’s edge and let the wind whip my hair back and redden my cheeks.  Let me dive into the too-salty water and swim against the waves.

The smell of the city reminds me of what I’ve lost. The smell of the land calls to me.
I hear you, land. I will return.