I wrote this when I left Austin for the first time:

The flight attendant goes through his usual rounds, and as I'm stowing my bag I can't help the urge that I'm forgetting something. I've got my wallet, and my passport is peeking out of an orange folder in front of me. Halfway through mentally reciting a list of the few things I didn't leave behind, I still can't quite place it, but the sound of the door closing interrupts me as if to say "too late".

I give up for now and slouch into my seat as my my mind starts to wander. Immediately, I'm filled with an incredible nostalgia. I've said a lot of goodbyes in the last month. I may have masked a few with a "see you later" but moving so much in my childhood has already eased me into the realization that I'm ending quite a significant chapter in my life. It started with 6am hallway conversations and broken elevators in nasty dormitories and progressed into hosting national events, somehow managing to graduate, and meeting the people that will be with me for the rest of my life. It was only a few weeks ago that I stood on stage in front of thousands and realized how much I had grown since turning the key for the first time at the dorms.

Eventually, it's the memory of that feeling that gets to me. My eyes start to water at the edges but this time I feel it's not because of the dryness of the cabin. The clouds get thinner as Austin gets smaller and eventually disappears from my tiny window. The minor turbulence still can't shake the feeling that I'm forgetting something, but I know that I'll remember a lot.

Why Reading is Fun

Reading is fun because it smells good. Generally speaking, there are two more prominent types of “new book smells”. The first is the one we are probably most well associated with. It comes in the form of paper backs. No matter where in the world you may be, no matter how dirty your shoes, whether they be on top of a library’s “new arrivals” stack or at the 10-minute stop of a 44 hour train journey, the experience of reading a brand new paperback is not complete without first flipping through it to create a fan that seems to magically conjure a stream of olfactory joy. It’s that smell of wood, of wet grass coming from wet paper. Regardless of the transportative ability of the story inside the book, all new paper backs tell their own story through their own transportative smell.

Coming in a close second, is the equally available, yet so much less appetizing “new-magazine” smell that arises from the glossy print process and ingredients akin to that used to build plastic. Flipping through in the aforementioned manner creates a feeling of disgust, as if choking on the rear exhaust of a Hummer. But then again, braving through this is the only way to get to your content.

But let’s be honest, we haven’t really covered why the smell is that important. Although, yes, it does smell good, the smell carries a series of unique connotations. Anticipation that it’s source contains an unknown entertainment potential, that these words that are about to be skimmed on may be more compelling to ones imagination than the last time this smell arose. Smelling a new book is a way of salivating the imagination the same way the mouth salivates before a grand feast.

And that is why reading is fun, because it smells so damn good.