Written By: Christine Betts
May 6, 2015
Walking down the small hallway of a doctor's office, a fresh and clean smell of comfort washed over me.
Instead of the usual blare of my alarm, I awoke to the sounds of Charlie Parker streaming softly up the big staircase, echoing from the kitchen. The sweet hum of the keyboard meshing with the raspy saxophone and the muted, sophisticated trumpet made all of my worries disappear. As I sat up, the small bump on my head from the shelf above the bed in my dad's childhood bedroom throbbed, but I hardly noticed.
Instead, the scent of dark coffee flew up to me, brightening my senses in the same way it might have had I been drinking it.
I threw on corduroys and a t-shirt and scurried down the stairs. The beams of the Milwaukee sun lit the entire house. The sunshine and the coffee and the jazz all in perfect harmony.
Grams's voice, raspy like the saxaphone, sang "Good morning sweetheart," in a poetic confidence that could only be described as jovial. "Mwah" she said as she kissed me on the cheek and searched for the comics in her small stack of newspaper. Grabbing the thin sheet, which always had a bigger variety than that of my hometown newspaper, I sat down on the living room loveseat, inhaling the sweet sweet smell of Grams, which had spread like a peaceful virus to everything in the home.
Soon, my dad walked down the stairs. He told me stories about when he was a little boy and would sit in the shag-carpeted room upstairs and listen to the footsteps around the creaky house. He had a knack for locating everyone at any given time.
I grabbed the jacket that was hanging on the coat rack right next to the little foyer that I had always seen as a symbol of wealth; it made me feel fancy to walk through it. I laced up my white tennis-shoes and my dad and I walked the few blocks to the local bakery, where I got a fresh, dense donut. The bakery smell was certainly distinct, sweet and warm, but it couldn't match the smell of love that emulated from Grams's.
When we returned we sat, basking in the sunlight and enjoying the morning's doughy acquisition. I noticed the line outside in the alleyway, but I can't remember if it was for drying clothes or an electrical wire. Later that day I would hear story after story of the idyllic life my father had led in that house. I would explore the basement, and, like in all the family comedies, I would find myself spooked by some large equipment lurking next to the board game shelf.
The memories of the house in Milwaukee, Grams's; the house with the wind chimes patiently ringing outside. The house with the sunshine and the coffee and the jazz, is, in my mind, as perfect as the stories I was told inside it. I've learned that we like to remember things a certain way, and while I'll never be able to reconstruct exactly what I did on my few visits, I'll always remember the soft gray walls, the image of a sailboat, the little porch off my dad's childhood bedroom, the strong chance that "You've Got Mail" was playing on the small TV in Grams's room and the foreign, soft orange carpet that gave me so much comfort, all of which pour into my mind every time I get a hint of the sweet sweet smell sent down from a better place, sometimes I can still find it between the cushions of the loveseat that now resides in my dad's apartment.