Melancholy and the Smells of Summer

I develop a form of melancholy in late summer and late winter that is absolutely unshakeable. Those seasons be damned, Spring and Autumn are lively enough where I don’t develop that weird sadness. It is a period of time filled with such dissonance. I want to run, climb, and burn off all this piss and vinegar and yet I find it difficult to leave my own home and enter certain social situations. I hate sitting around doing nothing, so typically I deal with this by learning a new skill or going to the library and reading up on hobbies that would be cool but probably too expensive to actually pursue (pilot license is still on the table though). Anyways, a couple years ago my husband Matt got a wild hair (hare?) up his ass and thought it would be fun to get a scooter. Just one.

“It will be great! You can ride it to work during the day, then I can take it to work at night!”

I told him we’ll check it out. What the heck, we’ll test ride a couple, get it out of our system, then tell ourselves the $1,200 will be better spent on paying off tuition. Little did I know how serious he was when we found one we both liked; he went up to the counter, whipped out his credit card, and bought the damn thing.

And that’s how it all started…

I had buyer’s remorse for an entire month after that. It was mostly me just convincing myself I shouldn’t be having this much fun. The other fraction was me wishing I was done repaying my student loans (which I managed to do this past spring anyways).

It was an amusing way to get to and from a location in all practical senses, but it wasn’t until this year that I really truly enjoyed “joyriding”. In my teen years we had a brief period of power toys that involved a couple quad’s, snowmobiles, a boat, and my dirt bike that all involved “joyrides” which were all kind of my dad’s way of saying “we made it to full blown privileged white people status!”. Even those Christmas Eve rides in the back seat of the car as a young stupid kid, with eggnog in hand, driving by people’s houses to check out all the Holiday lights still constitutes a “joyride”.

There is something different though about hopping on a 2 wheeled vehicle and heading off in some aimless direction.

This year, we purchased another scooter so that we could each have our own and joyride together. I think we had time together for perhaps 2 rides. That was it.

Driving alone late at night on a scooter I’ve found I’m having to re-learn a lot of things that I didn’t realize I had better knowledge of as a kid. Does that even make sense? When you’re little and you wander, you never really think about why you follow a particular direction. You just kind of flow there. It’s a tunnel vision with a view for only the most interesting path- and away you go. As we get older our perspective broadens and we see the landscape before us. The butterflies and geese focus out of image, but sharp rocks and shadows appear.

I miss that aimless wandering.

Sometimes I have to make it a game in order to keep myself from driving down the streets I already know.

Ok, next street, take a right…whatever street it is.

Hey, there’s that steeple off in the distance. What is it? Let’s get there.

In the back of my mind I’m always trying to think about the nearest major street to figure out where I’m going. Again, I have to tell myself it doesn’t matter and to just get lost.

From one end of town to the next, distinct smells take over and instantly I’m transported through space and time. A rush of over ripe fruit, fried food, and street fermenta takes me to Vietnam. One block down and I’m transported back to high school with my best friend Morgan and the smell of midnight steaks. Down another street and it’s the essence of a mothers sweater, subtle, with hints of cigarette and fabric softener.

I’m still working on trying to misplace myself in this city. Or maybe I’m just in a town I’ve lived in most my life and literally can’t get lost no matter how hard I try. Perhaps it’s a way to find new life in this city or just keep up with its rapid growth? This city of Grand Rapids is growing too fast. I think that’s one of the many reasons I wouldn’t mind just up and moving to a completely different town, or another country entirely.