The Smell Of Hope

I stepped out of my apartment this morning and was greeted by a beautiful, distant memory. The air was warm, damp and sweet, and immediately transported me eleven years into my past.

The year was 1993. I was a mere ten weeks from college graduation. My girlfriend, Erin Kathleen MacLean, was studying art in Florence. I joined her there on my spring break for ten days of magical, young love.

I remember her modest flat best of all. It was a small, dark space, scarcely large enough for two futons and a refrigerator. But when the shutters were thrown wide, it was drenched in warm Tuscan sunlight. We drank cheap wine, and ate fresh pasta with tomato paste from a tube. She hung laundry on the patio. And we’d walk and walk and walk down Vespa-strewn cobblestone streets, along the Arno, past great gardens and parks.

I was twenty-one, in love, and in Europe. And it all smelled amazing.

Like this morning: fresh rain on pavement, moist soil, and a cool, late-winter breeze just on the cusp of spring.

It’s the smell of hope.

And if you have the means, it’s a terrific way to start your day.

Erin lives in Brooklyn now. She is the lead designer for a boutique publishing house on Union Square. And she lives with her filmmaker boyfriend. I meet up with her every once and a while for a drink. We laugh at how young we were then, how old we are now, and how much has changed in between. Thankfully, though, very little has.

Thankfully, some mornings still smell like hope.

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