This poor photograph is a bit ragged,
but the cherubic cheerleader in the center would be me, circa 1972.
I'm at the YMCA this morning. The sun is not up, neither am I, really. I begin pedaling, plug in earphones, stare out at the dark north Austin street. Inhale, exhale, inhale. I daydream I'm in high school again, entering the gymnasium, cinder block walls painted in two colors. The smell is a mixture of rubber and body odor. Three sounds mingle with the remembered odors: the sound that sneakers make eeking across a polished floor, the creak of metal bleachers, the buzz of the always-flickering fluorescent lights overhead. Just outside the double metal doors someone's choosing a Coke out of the machine and the can clunks down the chute. Someone's leaning over the porcelain drinking fountain, slurping water, wiping drips of drink and swat with the collar of their cotton T-shirt.
My grandmother tells the story of a time I, younger than five, took a nap at her house. As the story goes, I sprang up mid-slumber hollering DE-FENSE! I guess I've loved a thriving gymnasium since I was the toddler cheerleading mascot of the basketball team my daddy coached, to the years I sweated my face crimson cheering for our school's team (go, Cougars!), to the years I sat in the bleachers as the coach's wife, making my own toddlers behave and trying to ignore the parents grumbling each decision my husband, the coach, made.
All this reminiscing because I caught a whiff of body odor and sound of sneakers slapping floor in the Y's basketball court. And, maybe also, because it's September reminding some dormant inner clock that it's time to hit the gym.
How about you? Tell me about a scent that transports you to another time and place.