So many times I think I should always have the windows up when I’m driving. When I’m consciously thinking about it and wondering why the car is so stuffy I finally roll them down. And I never regret it.
Today, on my way home from school, I was stopped behind an old Jeep at a red light. With my windows down I smelled gas and oil. That smell took me back. Way back. My grandparents on my mom’s side lived in White Oak for as long as I can remember in a log house on a dead end road. An oil derrick sat on the left side of the house creaking and squeaking at all hours of the day. If you live in East Texas you know that White Oak has a very distinct oil smell on account of all the oil there. (duh.) When I smelled that Jeep’s exhaust I remembered her. I remembered my grandmother. I remembered that log house and that old Chevy suburban that sat in the grass. I remembered that squeaky black derrick and that row of trees outside the bedroom window.
I remembered Chety, or as I knew her, MawMaw. And I missed her. Not in a there-is-a-lump-in-my-throat kind of way. I missed her. Who she was. All the parts I knew and all the parts of her I didn’t.
So I stayed behind that Jeep for as long as he’d let me to smell that smell. To smell her. To smell that log house and the inside of that suburban that smelled like sweet tobacco and oil.
My whole way home I smelled memories. Sweet tea with lemon, cow pastures, and her.