Saturday, October 27, 2007

Stale Smoke

A few days ago, in the middle of driving rain I stood with my coworker Lynn in the smoking porch. Sometimes, when I need to run something by her quickly I hang out with her as she takes her smoking break. It is a lot easier than finding time on her calendar. The place was full that day and when I returned to my desk I was reeking of stale smoke.

Growing up in a family where most adult males smoked, this smell was once very familiar and part of my surroundings. It blended with other smells around the house - fresh ground spices, pickles, oil, soap, detergent, camphor, flowers and incense until I could not tell it apart.

The distinct strain of burning tobacco smell and how it clung to me until I was able to shower that evening seemed like a metaphor for my life. It is the tie that binds past to the present even after everything that defined "home" has fallen to the wayside. Those other smells of home are not fully present in my life anymore and neither is that of cigarette smoke for them to confluence as they once did.

Like a scaffold reveals itself after the edifice has gone up in flames, the smell of smoke is reminder of all that once existed to cloud and minimize it. I realized I really hated the smell.

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