What’s That Smell?

Nowadays, that’s the first question I ask myself whenever I go anywhere.  It’s like a little guessing game, where most of the odors that make my nose perk are pretty recognizable, only they’re about 47 trabillion times stronger than usual.

It came pretty early, within the first month. We’d drive around town, and the restaurants, the traffic, and Pleasant Grove would attack my nose. Most of the odors before pregnancy were relatively mild. I mean, driving past Pleasant Grove never disappoints if I crave the smell of sewage or rotten vegetables, but whenever we pass the unPleasant Gross exit now, it’s almost unbearable. No offense to anyone who lives there; you probably live away from the smell, which seems to lurk along the freeway.

There’s also some farmspace near the corner of 400 South and Geneva Road that smells like the land of fire and brimstone for about 5 seconds. Whenever we’re driving this corner, Reilly and I always accuse each other of farting.

When we drive closer to downtown Salt Lake City, around 500 South, along the freeway, it smells like nachos. Like nacho cheese. Not like sharp cheese, but definitely more mild and with jalapeno peppers. It’s not a smell I mind very much at all but look forward to whenever we get to that part of town.

I walk into church, and I can smell everyone. I can smell that woman’s lotion and that man’s aftershave and that baby’s spit-up. I can smell cooking oil on your skin and your greasy fast food breakfast from the other day.  I can smell somebody’s minty gum and that kid’s fruity shampoo and don’t even ask me what the speakers are even talking about because all the smells are speaking way more loudly and with more appeal (or repulsion) than the speakers. I mean, I do have to focus, because it’s church. And church is more important than my hypersensitive nose. We’ll just have to keep that in mind.

Not every smell bothers me. Lots of aromas are wonderful, and I’d love to spin around in fragrant air all day, but the fact is that there are also bad odors. And when they’re bad, they’re really bad.

There’s a women’s restroom in the Wilkinson Center on the second floor, close to the memorial room and ballroom. I’m sure you know which one I mean. The other day I went to campus to wait for Reilly to get out of class. I needed to go to the bathroom because that’s a pretty consistent condition these days, and when I opened the door, I felt my face scrunch and my eyes roll to the back of my head. I braced myself inside the door frame. Then I considered holding my pee to go to the bathroom downstairs by the bowling alley or to the other bathroom just down the hall. But I have more or less trained myself to go whenever I need to go, so I forged ahead into the fecal fog.

Undoubtedly, it’s a busy bathroom. The Wilkinson Center is a major campus hub, and I should have known that the bathroom would be stinky, but this complete ambush on my nosehairs convinced me that no one knows how to courtesy-flush or disinfect/deodorize. And this bathroom is a place where a lot of mothers change piles of poopy diapers. Because there are a lot of young mothers who go to BYU, y’all. There seems to be no ventilation, and when I entered that bathroom at 8:30 that one evening, all the quadrillions of microscopic, feculent particles had amassed during the day not only to form a humid, boggy marsh around the stalls, but something, somewhere that felt like another dimension. It felt like I had crossed over into an ethereal, methanous space of utter grossness, where I wasn’t stepping in it but walking through it. Think about it. (Or not.) And to think I’m growing another human that will soon contribute to the world’s sewage (who, technically, already is). I mean, there are sacrifices, and there are sacrifices. I mean, I have to do the noble thing.

Next time, I’ll just find a different bathroom.

And whatever that smell is, I probably know, but for the most part, I’d rather not.

Stupid Parking Job

Macey’s is a Utah grocery store with a pretty good bakery and super cheap soft-serve ice cream, and they have free Smarties and Dum-Dums or Chula Pops at the cashier. Reilly and I got blue raspberry Dum-Dums tonight. We had just seen a father pushing his two kids in a cart. The daughter was around two years old, and the son was about 4. We were in the frozen foods aisle when I heard the son say to his dad, “Why are you talking back to me?” just before the daughter dropped her sucker on the floor and cried because the dad wouldn’t pick up the dirtygross candy for her. We quietly laughed far enough behind this family.

This evening, Reilly and I came out of Macey’s and wheeled our cart of groceries to the parking lot. Reilly walked in front of the cart, and I was pushing it. As we neared our car, we noticed a small grey SUV parked next to us. Reilly saw how the Jeep/Forerunner/similarly objectionable vehicle with a Washington state license plate was parked, and he looked back at me with an expression that made me look at what he noticed. The vehicle’s left rear wheel was on the line, and the left front wheel was in our parking space.

I immediately reacted. “I hope he [the owner of the SUV] comes out soon so I can kick him in the nards.”

Reilly agreed that the parking job was bad.

We loaded the groceries into the trunk of our car, and I wheeled the cart to the nearest cart corral. The perfectly cool air braced my hot, angry face. Yet, I still wondered how I could push my neatly into the corral when I had a normal cart and the other carts in the corral were a mini-cart and a car-cart that kids could sit in and pretend to drive while parents pushed it. Then I just decided to make sure my cart was at least out of the way, because I’m incredibly considerate about these things.

When I returned to the car, Reilly had unlocked my door, but he hadn’t opened it because the space between our car and the dork car next to us was too narrow. But he also looked at me as if something was funny.

I opened the car door and slipped inside, and I happened to glance inside the Jeep/Forerunner/whatever. The driver happened to be in the car, and the driver happened to be a woman. Blonde, ponytail, appearing to avoid looking to her left at her condemners.

It occurred to me that she could have heard what I said, but once I closed the door, I told Reilly, “It’s a girl in that car! I’m still going to kick her in the nards!”

Then Reilly said, “I have a little trick for when I park like that. I park the car again and fix it.”

Seems simple enough.

Alpine Loop Drive

Around this time last year, about a week later, Reilly took me on a drive through the Alpine Loop. I was hoping — hoping — that he would kiss me for the first time on this date. We wound around the mountain, the vibrant colors jumped at our eyes and danced with the setting sun. We got out of the car and stood together on an overlook.

He gave me a hug and put his arm around me, then . . . nothing. After watching the sun set, we got back into the car, went to JCW’s for a burger, then we went back to his place where we listened to some music and watched Breaking Bad. So, not a complete loss.

Reilly later explained how scared he was that evening. He really wanted to, but he couldn’t, because he was too nervous.

We drove the Alpine Loop last night. The car climbed the winding road through the aspens, up the back side of Mount Timpanogos. On the descent toward American Fork, we stopped at a parking lot for one of the main overlooks. It was the same place we stood last year, right when I was expecting that first kiss. We took some photos, we made fun of things — particularly the beautiful family that was getting professional portraits taken — and we looked at the halo the sun formed behind the peak nearest to us.

Before we got back into the car, Reilly leaned down and kissed me gently on the lips. Confidently. Without hesitation. I asked him if that’s how he would have done it last year. He said maybe, except that he would have also pooped his pants. Yes, he said, “pooped.” And of course it perfectly describes his level of nervousness so many years ago. Which is less than one.

He’s exceeded all my hopes.

Here are some photos we took. The leaves turned early this year, and I was afraid the colors would have faded too much. They were much brighter two weeks ago, and many of the leaves have fallen to the ground. Fortunately, the Alpine Loop is almost always beautiful, except when there are fires. People, don’t start fires.

A Midsummer Dream

“Our revels now are ended. These our actors,
As I foretold you, were all spirits, and
Are melted into air, into thin air:
And like the baseless fabric of this vision,
The cloud-capp’d tow’rs, the gorgeous palaces,
The solemn temples, the great globe itself,
Yea, all which it inherit, shall dissolve,
And, like this insubstantial pageant faded,
Leave not a rack behind. We are such stuff
As dreams are made on; and our little life
Is rounded with a sleep.”

–Prospero, The Tempest

So, the Shakespeare Festival was fun. The play was quite good, and I’ll probably not write a lot about it. It pleased and amused me. The drive was exhilarating and I sang along to my iPod, and the roadwork along I-15 didn’t even annoy me.

Click on the rodent to see what I did after the festival:

Or, check out the slideshow.

I tried to decide whether I would have enough time to do some exploring, since I was already in southern Utah, and since it’s the summertime, and I was feeling rather energetic today. Still. The play finished around 4:45, and it would take about three hours to go home, and I needed to finish a paper for class and clean my apartment for cleaning checks tomorrow.

Cedar Breaks National Monument wasn’t even 30 miles away. I headed east on Center Street in Cedar City and the let the winding roads take me into the sky. Occasionally as I climbed, I would look at the valley expand below me and the height triggered my acrophobia, so I would try to refocus on the road. But then I’d always look back at the valley. I liked the thrill.

You guys, Utah is so beautiful. Today was one of those rare days I wish I had a car just so that I could bounce around the state and feel (especially) small against this great big magnificent world. A surreal backdrop on the grandest stage. Floating in a false consciousness.

And then there’s the price of gas.

Today was absolutely worth it, though.

Always Worth It

I’d start from my mom’s place on the West Side. Then I’d cut through downtown and find my way onto an overpass that exited toward Jacksonville’s beaches. Duval County sprawls and stretches and earns its reputation as the largest county in the country, area-wise. So really, I’d start on the West Side, go through Riverside, then Downtown, then Arlington, then whatever is between Arlington and the Beaches before I actually felt the ocean breeze and saw sand. It takes anywhere between 45 minutes and an hour, depending on traffic and whether I want to follow the 35mph speed limit on Atlantic Boulevard.

I’d park somewhere along one of the tree-named streets. Secure the car. Walk with my backpack toward one of many beach entrances. Flip flops. Excitement would build and quicken my heart. I would reach the crest of the pathway and the ocean would become visible, forming the forever horizon. The tide would wash up against the sand. It was hardly ever crowded when I’d go. The white noise would relax my pulse to counter the excitement. I’d smile, either way.

I’d lay out a small blanket and put my backpack on it. Slather on sunscreen. Put on a hat. Pull out a book and a water bottle. Watch the surfers. Read a little. Take some pictures. Send a few texts. Guess where I am, I’d say. The beach is fabulous today, I’d say.

Sometimes I’d arrive in the late morning, just as the sun was getting high. It would shine straight down, so I’d have to apply more sunscreen, at least every 45 minutes. I don’t like sunburns. And I’d often stay for about two hours, sometimes longer, until I had to head back to take my mom to work.

Seagulls and terns would hover over the water. Alight upon the sand. I’d compare footprints.

The sand could be finer, but it also could be coarser. After a few pages, I’d stand up and walk to the water. Get my feet wet. Wade until the ocean came knee-deep.

My mind would clear; thoughts would roll out with the tide.

I’d go by myself. The isolation can be nice.

The tan can be nice, too.

***

These mountains are nowhere near the beach. We cross from Utah County to Salt Lake County which is a little less than halfway to our destination. The sun is starting to set, searing glowing seams into the sky.

Maybe it’s because I spent 11 hours last weekend in a car, or maybe because this feels like a regular trip to the beach, this drive doesn’t feel long at all. The closer we get, the more those familiar feelings of anticipation begin to surface. I can hardly hold still.

And it’s not like I’ve been to Davis County all that often. But, it’s a really important county to me.

We exit the freeway. A few of the buildings look familiar. Other than the time is takes, this trip is different in so many ways than going to the beach. The air is dryer and considerably cooler. It’s nighttime. The excitement isn’t the same. I’m not by myself.

We pull up to the house. Before I walk to the door, I look around. The obscured valley emits a soft light. I smile.

The door opens. I smile.

I already know this is going to be great.

On the Streets

What I’ll miss: Zipcar
Pretty cool car-sharing company. Gas and insurance are included. Convenient. Allowed for many roadtrips and moving between apartments. I’ll always associate Zipcar with New York City.

My first real Zipcar experience was a second roadtrip to Maine. Here’s the travelog.

What I won’t miss: Driving where I’m really unfamiliar
I’ve had too many close calls and scared too many friends. I’m somewhat used to driving in the city, but when I’m in the outskirts, I’m downright reckless: rolling stops, illegal u-turns, occupying two lanes, following too closely. Maybe my city driving experience is the problem. I need to keep my perfect driving record, please.