On Coming Back

city flower

There can be heartache in city living, especially in the summertime. For someone who grew up as a country mouse, summertime has always been the backdrop for my most sensory memories: the smell of freshly mown grass and charcoal barbecues, the sound of airplanes crossing a lazy summer sky, choruses of peepers and cicadas, the sharp crack of baseball bats, the feeling of bare toes in sand and the hot prickle of a sunburn. In the city, the smells and sounds are different, even when they’re the same. The smell of barbecue wafting from our neighbors’  balcony feels invasive when it’s not paired with sounds of cicadas and the soft hum of a garden sprinkler. Airplanes that cross the city sky compete with sirens and car alarms for aural dominance and all but disappear before I’ve even noticed them. Our neighbors' air conditioner now drowns out the sounds of the birds I spent the spring listening to. Last week, we spent two glorious days in Maine. We drove seven hours up and back for the priviledge of walking barefoot in tall grass and having mosquitos bite our legs into near oblivion.  The trip was worth every single itchy red bump. While we were there, mostly, we relished the space and the quiet and the company. Now we’re back and the city feels stifling and smelly by comparison. The places where I normally seek refuge aren’t working their usual magic. Our tiny apartment feels tinier. The smell of Sunday night’s garbage sitting out for Monday’s pickup is oppressive. I'm the first to admit, I'm the worst kind of grumpy. There is so much to love about summer in the city, and I know I’ll get back into the rhythm of things, but for now, it’s hard to be back.