On the eve of April 20th, my family and I went on our nightly walk around the neighborhood. It's a walk that typically starts with high hopes and the best of intentions. As the nights grow longer, we start these walks as the sky's turning pink in the west. That night, I took a deep breathe, searching for any lingering hints of of early spring's jasmine floating through the air. It has been weeks since I'd been able to smell it. I wondered how many more sweet Jasmine springtimes were left in my life because nothing is more relaxing than contemplating your own mortality.
In my mind, the walk would be a gentle stroll up and down the hills as my kids slowly ride their scooters a few feet ahead of me. As I thought about how many years I had left in my life and looked forward to the walk, my kids raced down the hill and the nightly panicked walk had officially begun. Jude decided not to wait for us at the corner like he usually does but continued down the block and around another corner. He disappeared completely from view. That's when I remembered why I sort of hated our nightly walks.
I tore down the hill around the first corner and didn't see him. I imagined how plausible it was for a pedophile to pull up in a Buick, grab Jude, and drive off. He'd only been out of my sight for less than a minute. Was that enough time for someone to steal him? Did I see anyone suspicious driving down the street as he rounded the corner?
I ran down the block, wondering when I should call 911. I decided I'd wait until I went around the next corner, which is when I saw Jude bounding up the hill away from me on his scooter. I yelled. I took his scooter. I kept walking. Jude stood on the sidewalk and cried, but he eventually caught up with us and got his scooter back. We rode on.
As we neared our house, a smell overtook the air and it wasn't the smell of sweet Jasmine. It was the smell of sweet pot, which was, no doubt, being smoked by childless people on a warm spring night; people with enough time on their hands to pregame 4:20.
"That smells disgusting," said Darla. "What is it?"
"Sage," I said. "Someone's burning sage."
"I hate that smell," said Darla.
"I love it," said Jude.
Greg and I shared a glance, knowing that we may have a future stoner on our hands. As we rounded the last corner to arrive at our house, the kids stopped to smell a fresh magenta rose whose blooms were just opening.
Jude inhaled deeply and said, "It smells like my tears" before he continued to ride back to our house.
I realized then that if Jude were to eventually become a stoner, he was destined to be a happy, poetic one. I was even a little bit jealous that he had thought to liken the scent of a flower to his tears. The best descriptor I could come up with for Jasmine, my favorite flower, was "sweet." Maybe I should loosen up a little like Jude and just ride life like a scooter. Maybe I'd be less of a paranoid stoner and more of a dramatic one.