My childhood memories are so hazy sometimes I wonder if they are nothing more than mental illustrations of the stories I've heard laughed about over dinner. Sometimes I wonder if the gentle warm breeze that lifted my six-year-old ponytail to brush against my neck, or the melody of sticks tapping across a wooden fence at the request of a bouncing dogs bark are just vain attempts to fill in the stencils I have stamped in my mind.
Sometimes I wonder if the memories are even mine.
But then I walk outside and the air smells like stepping onto the bus in 7th grade on a sweaty afternoon in August, gasoline wafting down the dirty steps and the cry of 20 middle-schoolers yelling over each other floating out the open windows.
I smell hairspray and it's 6:00 am in 2013 -- I'm sitting in the bathroom as my mom does my hair for the first day of high school, excitement and anxiety dancing a duet in my throat and my head getting yanked back with each brush stroke.
"White Iverson" comes on my playlist and I'm a sophomore in high school, squished in the backseat of a car on the way to Cook Out for lunch -- 45 minutes of freedom making the volume turn up on its own.
All of a sudden I am living a moment in memories.
I hear a train and I'm four-years-old, balancing on the railroad tracks by my childhood home, becoming a tightrope walker as the world watched with bated breath. A child draws with chalk on the road and I am swinging on a bar in gymnastics, tumbling into a pile of foam with air-conditioning blasting and whistles cutting through the air, followed by the thump of feet hitting the ground.
Sometimes the air smells like sitting with my dad on the roof of our house; balancing a box of pizza and two cans of Pepsi, tomato sauce dripping onto shingles -- tears from our laughter dripping alongside them.
I wake up and my bed feels like waking up on a snow day, a blank canvas of snow stretching across our front yard and the smell of biscuits rising me out of bed to wander sleepy-eyed into the kitchen.
Sometimes these memories strike me so fiercely the present world dissolves at my feet, and I look up to see a sky only my childhood self would know. Like all of our Little League games, dance recitals, and Christmas mornings are woven into the clouds, waiting for the gust of wind that sends you back to them.
So, what does the air smell like to you?