Salted asphalt and warming grease, caffeinated metal, smoke-infused canvas.
I’ve already found my bearings before getting off the bus, so I immediately integrate myself into the mass of humanity and break through to head south on 8th.
A saccharine spice is interrupted by a girl whose shorts ride higher than any father would approve as she sweeps across the street in her army boots. But the amorphous block of tourists and travelers has dissipated to reveal a sight-line to the band of bumble bee yellow pushing north, overtaken by the cyclists who whiz by on their road bikes, Citi Bikes, hybrids – all surely as grateful as I am for the fall day that has gotten lost in the calendar blocks of early August.
Notes of green and the sturdy perfume of wood interrupt briefly as I take the first steps past the park, only to be overtaken by a determined ripeness that can only come from its unintended, but unsurprising residents.
A few blocks later, factory plastic just masks the wafting remains of a restaurant’s lunch shift while children slip out of their strollers to squeeze between the legs of the crowd to watch dads and brothers take the court for the day’s basketball title.
Acidic, pungent, and spiked with a comforting current of yeast, the familiar scent of beer hangs heavy in the air as the fours of us, reunited, step up onto the curb alongside a window of fluffy puppies and yet another Vitamin Shoppe comes into view across the street.
Rice-wrapped fish, bok choy and a watermelon chalice, even a steaming steak doesn’t leave a sensory impression now, subdued as they are compared to our reawakened stories of dorm rooms, classes, relationships molded and modified, and our shared laughter over how we’ve been treating this thing called “the real world.”
The weekend passes in a stream of mirth, pinned to the bulletin board of memory by incongruous sights and smells, the dazzle of indecently twisted balloons and ankles, and the giddy shrieks of laughter that will have to tide us over until.