Hot Asphalt

What is it about a scent, an odor, an aroma that can snap you back in time 30 years without a nano-second’s notice?

Today, we went to the Denver VA hospital for G’s MRI (of her back, and I’m not sure why). Her appointment was at 11am, and we left here a little after 7, never knowing what the traffic situation in the 120 miles and 2 other cities (Colorado Springs and Denver) is going to be. We arrived just a little before 10, went to the MRI area, and she was done with that by 10:30.

Then, because her her stomach pain was back full force because she had been hungry and eaten a Power Bar at 4 am, we decided to brave the ER and see if we could get her examined there. The”nice” thing about going to the ER is they will do tests, scopes, etc. on the spot that she would otherwise have to wait months for. There was definitely a method to the madness.

Being Friday, the ER was packed, but we realized that many people were there only for blood draws, as they were taking numbers and being called every few minutes. We decided to risk it. She got called shortly, and I waited, reading National Geographics from 1980 and 1984 that felt, in my hand, to be brand new. I read about Catalonia’s independence from Spain, bamboo, Argentine gauchos, and Albania’s decision to accept no help or aid from anyone outside its borders. Everything I read seemed very current, even though it was at least 24 years old.

In a relatively short while the doctor came out and called me. They were taking her up to do an EGD (esophagogastroduodenoscopy), in which they run a long tube down your throat, into and through your stomach all the way into your upper intestine. Fun. But, again, if she’d asked for one of those in Pueblo, we’d have been back up here in maybe 8 weeks.

I went with her and the gurney to the scoping lab and proceeded to wait there. It was much quieter than the ER and not filled with phlegmy sick people trying to cough up their lungs. Not that I have anything against that, mind you.

Fortunately, in the stack of books and magazines lying around, I spied a Stephen King novel I had not read. I picked it up, and about 125 pages later, G. came out, ready to go back down to the ER. The scope was entirely negative. Frustrating, but good, because she had been worried that she was developing some huge hole in her stomach, which was not the case. One of her pancreatic enzymes was slightly elevated, so they thought possibly pancreatitis, but weren’t sure. Anyway, they cleared her to go home, two of the cutest male nurses ever came in and took out her IV and finished her charting, and we were off.

Of course, the first thing she wanted was a latte. I know, I know, you’d think coffee would really bother her, but it doesn’t. There’s a Starbucks right across the street from the hospital, in the direction of home, so off we went. It was a hot day in Colorado, mid 90’s at least in Denver, so when I pulled into the parking lot and stepped out of the car, the smell hit me immediately.

Hot asphalt.

Instantly, I am transported back to Six Flags Over Georgia where I spent every summer from 10th grade through the end of college working. The hot Georgia sun pounding down on the black, newly poured asphalt–there is just no other scent like that, especially when you mix in a little cotton candy, french fry grease, and sweat.

I just stood there, dumbstruck, while G. managed to get out of the car. I asked her if she smelled it and she said, smelled what? She didn’t, or maybe she did but to her it was just hot asphalt in the Denver summer sun.

But for me, it was a little bit of time travel, which, after the day we had had, was pretty nice.

Funny how those things just sneak up on you and slap you upside they head with you least expect it.

GG

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3 thoughts on “Hot Asphalt

  1. Glad the tests came out negative, but how frustrating this must be to not be getting to the root of what’s going on.

    I know exactly what you mean about smells. The smell of sawdust or even walking through the wood area at Lowe’s or Home Depot instantly brings me back to being a little girl and hanging out in my dad’s woodworking shop. He used to make furniture (for a hobby!), so the smell of freshly cut wood always comforts me and makes me smile. Certain foods do that, too, but especially the wood.

  2. Good news about tests. Hey, gasoline does it for me. I am back to age 4, riding with my lesbian aunt and herpartner(of over 60yrs until she died, Aunt still alive at 101.)

  3. I’m glad her tests came back OK…but still frustrating because she is in pain.

    Smells…so totally know what you mean…for me it’s oil refinerys (I’m sure I mispelled that). Reminds me of going to see my grandparents when I was a kid in Casper WY…Every once in awhile, I get a wiff…and I’m right back there again.

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