The smell of the rain, for whatever reason, always reminds me of spring break 2001 – Seattle. There’s something about the way each drop crashes to the pavement, kicking up the dirt and sending an earthy smell into the air, that takes me back four years – to when Kerrie and I jumped onto a plane and headed for our first venture into the great Northwest.

It was a sudden decision; we had both found that tickets for Italy were very cheap – a little more than 200 dollars – but that once over there we wouldn’t have any money to spend. Neither of us had ever traveled anywhere for spring break, and decided that it was high time that we left the confines of central Minnesota. We contemplated a few different cities, but our heart was always set on going to Seattle.

The stereotype is true: it rains in Seattle a lot. It was never a horrible downpour, like New Orleans, for instance, but four of our six days were met with a light rain, almost a mist, that would spring a mixed smell into the air – rain and ocean, dirt and concrete.

Aside from the obvious remembrance of places and things, I find myself reminiscing about any trip I’ve taken by the smell in the air. I’ll catch a whiff of bus exhaust, or the searing smell of rush hour traffic, and instantly be reminded of walking around in London, dodging busses and traffic while gawking at the Tower of London.

The smell of Cajun spices brings to mind New Orleans, obviously, but so does the smell of garbage – more specifically, the smell of wet garbage. Wood burning in a fireplace takes me back to Jackson Hole, where I spent my summers until I was too old to spend summers with my grandparents any more. Rain? Well, Seattle.

Our Seattle trip was ultimately uneventful, but thrilling to us all the same. We learned the downtown area as quickly as we could; we spent hours at Pike’s Place Market, we played pool and cribbage until I could finally win, we drank and planned a future we knew would happen eventually.

Regardless of everything we did, though, just a spattering of rain can bring it all back.

This was lovingly handwritten on May 6th, 2005