With our eyes closed

I could count on one hand the number of new books I’ve been given that had the same smell of the paper used in Jon Day’s Cyclogeography. The one that I remember now is a hardbound copy of David Sheff’s Pretty Boy, bought at Border’s in San Francisco by an aunt. My copy of Jon Day’s love letter to cycling, published by Notting Hill Editions, used paper that doesn’t smell bleached or sanitized: it smelled like a concentrate of a light, masculine perfume, woody and sheer and delicate. I couldn’t get enough of it: its pages sprawled in front my face, I closed my eyes and inhaled it like a drug.

The other drug I had two weeks ago a batch of chocolate chip cookies my wife made, which was very much the best one she made: chewy interiors, slightly crispy edges, with a beautiful cookie dough base that serves as a backdrop for those discs of semi-molten bittersweet chocolate to shine. I love it more because it was so recognizable: I told her I had it somewhere… but couldn’t pinpoint where exactly. With my eyes closed I realized that it tasted exactly – and exactly in italics – like the cookie I would always ask my sister to order for me at that Panera branch in Edgewater, New Jersey, that characteristically olive green logo like a beacon in my mind’s eye. At once I can see the mulch on the trees by its paved entrance, and felt the wind on my face in a sunny spring day in May 2010.

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