In fact, the smell of his skin was lacing its way through my car too. Driving home in the XL Betty Paige shirt he'd slept in the night before, made the smell all the more pungent. I rolled down my windows to let the overpowering smell out, and just as quickly I rolled them back up, fearing that I'd lose the scent altogether. When I got home I promptly proceeded to strip and throw the offensive shirt on the floor of my room. How dare he follow me home! As I walked into my bathroom to take a shower and wash away the rest of him, I realized that the smell was embedded in my skin. Fifty physical miles away, a thousand emotional miles away, and yet there he was-- right next to me, on me, all over me. As the bathroom filled with steam and the windows turned misty I took one last guilty whiff of my own skin, knowing that he was lingering there. Then I stepped into the shower and commenced mercilessly scrubbing him off.
I came home that night, wanting nothing more than to collapse into bed. I remember feeling irritated by the accumulation of the day's small annoyances. As I dropped my backpack on the floor next to my bed, the smell of him filled my nose. Furtively, I glanced around as I hurriedly picked up that XL Betty Paige shirt and shed the shirt I was wearing. Pulling the shirt over my head I breathed in his natural eau de cologne without hesitation. Snuggling under the covers and into his shirt; his skin; his essence I realized that I had started and ended the day smelling of him, despite all of my efforts to get rid of that very aroma.
"I still don't have a reason, and you don't have the time--"
"And it really makes me wonder if I ever gave a fuck about you..."
I found myself seething with rage as I drove home on the 605. Not only had he spent the majority of the night playing an absolutely insipid and inane computer game, I was stuck in seemingly stationary traffic on the drive home. My acerbic mood made the air smell acrid; the air was as dry and cynical as my current temperament. With disgust I rolled up my car windows, feeling angry without really knowing the reason why. The warm summer sun blazing down into my car in the early morning caused me to doze off at least half a dozen times. Half a dozen near accidents. As I stalked to class, after driving an hour in traffic, my phone beeped three times.
"Hey. Did you get back okay?"
And with those six words, six hours of anger dissolved in to the breezy summer wind.
"If you just realize, what I just realized,"
"That we'd be perfect for each other and we'll never find another..."
As I moved away from him to find a more comfortable spot to fall asleep, I felt him pulling me closer. I felt my entire body tense up, and either he had already fallen asleep or he chose to ignore my discomfort because he just kept holding me. I finally relaxed into his arms, letting my body mold against his and letting my hands fall in a haphazard way onto the bed. As my eyelids became cumbersome with sleep, I felt his left hand close perfectly around mine. In that moment I remember thinking, tonight I want to leave the lingering smell of my skin on him. I turned to face him and nestled into the hollow between his shoulder and his neck. Without shame I fell asleep breathing him in, with the familiar smell of his skin enveloping me.
Driving home that winter morning, the air smelled as winsome and sweet as Colbie Caillat's silky voice. As the biting winter air blew in through my window the smell of our skin; not just his, hit me. I felt an unfamiliar fluttering in the pit of my stomach. Was it possible that the impression of his hand holding mine and his face buried in my neck was giving me butterflies?
I laughed in spite of myself and vigorously shook my head; never, not me.
***"When did my heart first feel this way?"
"Being alone used to be just fine."
"Now life without you is just passing time."
Feeling the weight of the day on my body, I tried to shake off the lethargy. The speedometer read 80mph and I knew I shouldn't push it anymore than that, regardless of how tired I was. I opened all four windows to let in the night air. I inhaled the smell of the late night fog and the familiar fragrance of LA pollution. I'd gained a sense of appreciation and an unhealthy love for these late night drives-- driving fast, the night air, the shuffle feature on my iPod.
I parked my car and rested my head on my steering wheel, Damn. I'm tired. Pushing away the clinging sluggishness I stepped out of my car and walked towards my olfactory addiction.
"Fairy tales don't always have a happy ending do they?"
After a year, I don't doubt that I could distinguish the scent of his skin from amongst a thousand other people. Over the past year the late night drives and early morning drives back have become innumerable. Hundreds of songs played on my iPod; and more than once the songs have become the unofficial soundtrack of our unofficial relationship. How many more late night drives? How many more songs? I feel like I've already come full circle.