I smelled baseball last night.
As we look across the horizon to Spring Training, Opening Day, All-Star Weekend, we make pictures in our heads. We take images already emblazoned in our brains, rearrange them slightly in order to make them different, and apply them to new events. This pastiche serves as reasonable brain fodder as the ice melts off our downspouts, but it is not baseball. There are visions, certainly, but other senses need to be filled. The humid air against the skin. The chatter, the organ, the clapping against the ear drums. And the smell.
I smelled that baseball smell last night. I breathe in sharply through my nose right now and I am greeted with nothing but the odors of dust, wet dog feet, and radiated heat. But last night, as I lay in bed thinking about Spring Training, I inhaled and it was there. Just for a second. It wasn’t hot dogs or freshly-cut grass. It was just the night air. It was that smell that happens just after opening a car door and stepping out on a June evening. It’s that smell that happens when you sneak out in your slippers to deposit the last of the trash before the truck comes tomorrow. It’s that smell that accompanies those moments when you are bathed in the yellow light of a street lamp, walking, laughing, and realizing that what is happening is a perfect moment.
I’ve been trying, but I can’t bring it back — that night air. All I need to do is wait. I don’t know when it will come, but it will. And I will recognize it because it will smell like it always has. It will smell just like it should.