When do we learn what fire smells like? When I think of it, I cannot remember a time where I didn’t know. I hear two little girls, riding their scooters and filling the space with their bodies and their voices, discussing where the fire smell might be coming from — and I wonder at how, even now, during a pandemic, it’s something that can be so animalistic inside of us, to be drawn to that smell. To seek out its origins.
I’m missing him deeply, although it doesn’t feel deep enough. Perhaps it will never feel “enough” to properly capture the weight of my love for him. I try to draw these comparisons — I wonder at whether he’s thought about fire in this way. I wonder if this is even worthy of a book I write about him. Like him, I’m an oddball mix of hoarder and stringent curator. I collect every odd and end, every bit and bob, until I come to that time when I’m ready to cut it all loose, donate and trash and gift, and be left with the memory and space and freedom. The hoarding feels like the optimist in us — the part of dad and me that sees value, worth, potential at every turn. The curator is perhaps the wild coyote aching to roam free, weighed down by the things and thus ready to scrap it all and howl at the moon.
Neither part is better or worse. It’s just parts that make up the whole, each with its own value.
Perhaps it’s not even an original thought. I wonder how many writers and poets and thinkers and humans have considered the question of fire memory? But maybe that’s where we get it from, after all. From the repetition, the unoriginal thought, the core memory that lives in us all and keeps us all a little bit alive forever.