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♪ And you're stuck between the past and present tense ♪ -- The Brightest Bulb Has Burned / Screws Fall Out ~ Less Than Jake

Every year the same thing happens. The spring comes. The weather gets nicer. Trees bloom and the world comes back to life. My nightly wanderings become more and more frequent. Then all at once it hits me.

I'm usually outside wandering through some version of suburbia or another. Occasionally I'm a little more secluded. I'm always alone.

I don't know what does it. Is it the endless sprawling streets? The hum of the streetlights matching the buzz of the insects swirling around the tired beams of light? The warm wind drifting?

The smell? Yes. The smell is what does me in.

Popular opinion be damned, smell is the most powerful of senses. Time is nature's way of preventing everything from happening at once, yet in a split instant I have relived years at the tip of my unsuspecting nostrils.

My stride stops as I become momentarily immersed in memory. The flash is so vivid I feel I can almost touch the people that are now half a world away. Nights spent climbing to the rooftops of buildings, always looking for a challenge. Nights spent finding the best locations to view the city lights reflecting and shimmering over the lake. Nights spent driving aimlessly for hours, arms out the car window while the music plays.

Disoriented, I continue my walking.

As I pass under the next streetlight I become more and more a part of the real world. I slowly return to "now". Faces fade. No longer can I feel the rush of looking down the four-story drop from the top of a mall roof. No longer can I see my best friends beer grin from the other side of the campfire. No longer can I feel the texture of her guitar strings as she teaches me my first chords by moonlight.

Memories are both merciful and cruel. I wouldn't trade them for the world.

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