Te Amo

A whiff of cigar.

It was cold. I felt grimy, disheartened and hungry. The day had gone too fast. Too many mundane -and too few jolly- errands crowded into a single afternoon. It was time to head back down Route 9, make the two hour drive home in the dark. Back to work in the morning.

We were about to enter a burger joint for takeout when the tantalizing scent of tobacco reached my nostrils. Cigarette smoke makes me queasy I’m afraid, but cigars…

Sniff. Sniff. My eyeballs darted left, then right. Sniff. I wanted to step into that heady aroma, breathe in slow, let it wrap around my skull, set my little gray cells undulating. I couldn’t locate the source, not without being odd and obvious. Just as well, given the times, not to co-mingle breaths.

Cigar smoke conjures everything that is elegant and exotic for me. It suggests I might be nattily dressed, perched on a stool, slipping wry witticisms to my admirers. What? Cigar smoke? Does all that? Really? Yes.

Just like that, an intoxicating shift in consciousness.

Aromatherapy is not an exact science, after all. Lavender sachet? Nothing. Chainsaw fumes? I’m six years old, happily ‘helping’ my Dad with the winter’s firewood. The first encounter with skunk odor, unpleasant to most, fills my heart with springtime as surely as a robin’s song. Lest I tempt fate, I must clarify that being sprayed by a skunk would not have the same effect. Hard telling what scent will transport who, where.

Back to cigars for a moment.

For years, when handsome husband and I would head home to New Jersey for a biannual visit, we would stop in Portland. Down the cobblestone side streets we would go to a smoke shop on Fore Street. Leather chairs on the right, newspapers in the back, humidor along the left brick wall. We didn’t partake often enough to be aficionados and frankly didn’t mind the odd Swisher Sweet, but our go to was a Te Amo. Though we might buy one for another time, we would snip just one and saunter the streets sharing puffs and then continue our road trip. Altogether, we may have shared 4 or 5 a year, and none at all for a bunch of years now; yet, you can’t go through a junk drawer or glove compartment without finding a cigar cutter.

The smoke faded in an instant, and the fanciful images soon slid away, but the memory of it has circled and circled. A reminder, I think, but of what? Something about changing consciousness at will. Sometimes, I can spend a fruitless hour attempting to shove my thoughts into a more desirable realm. Other times I’m just taking care of business, stopping for a burger and …whammo.

Click here to listen to Te Amo.

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