I’d forgotten how good the night air smells. After a long winter, months of shutting the window on the freezing air, the night smells good. It smells of possibility.
It smells like it did when I was 17. We’re drinking cider in the park, sitting by the river, talking quietly, laying on the damp grass. Now we’re going home, and I’m with my friends, but I’m walking next to a Boy. The baggy sleeves of our ludicrous outsize black jumpers are brushing against each other. The Boy is quietly beautiful, and his nickname is Jesus.
Nothing ever happens between me and the Boy, but there was always the possibility in night air that smelled of Spring.
Night air smells of adventure. It’s years later. I’m standing in a train station, on the platform next to a very long train. It’s the middle of the night, the middle of the desert, the middle of no-where. And I’m standing under a breathtaking number of stars in a sky that makes you want to use the word velvet. I’m taking deep breaths and waiting to get back on the train. Somewhere, there is another boy. And this train is taking me far, far away from him and far away from any harm.
It’s the smell of a beach in the dark, tangy with ozone and seaweed and things rotting. The sand under my bare feet is delicious, cool and cushiony. I’m walking along the edge of the sea, in the leftover froth, letting the occasional ripple touch my toes and my heart is singing with delight at how far I’ve come, what I’ve done. The night air smells bloody fantastic.
That same smell, cool in my nostrils many years later, in the cold grey light just before dawn, just before a baby cries for the first time. It’s a May morning and I’m getting ready to hold my daughter.
And a few weeks later, it’s the air that I breathe during the 3am feed, as I nurse my baby, like I nursed the one before her and will the one after. When you feel like the only two souls in the world, just breathing in the night air. It’s lilac mixed with mown grass and damp earth, new leaves freshly coated with the chill of dew.
The night air is full of possibility. I’d forgotten how good it smells.