Which is the earliest?
An elevator, somewhere in Los Angeles. I’m extremely small, I must be with my parents. A man is in the elevator with us. He’s enormous - I look up, up, see the elevator lights above his head. The man is wearing a suit, and smoking a cigar. The smell is repulsive. My first repulsion. I remember thinking one word. Stupid.
Family breakfast. The table is set, no one’s sat down yet, I have the sudden urge to sniff a cup of coffee. Burnt. It smells of smoke.
Fireplace flames are beautiful, but afterwards the living room stinks of coffee. I don’t play there.
The campfire and a shifting wind make for an instrument sure as a compass. The wind shifts, the smoke hits head-on, and the next day my clothes have an invisible stain.
The fifth of July is special not for its nose — the slightly sour take on burnt that is spent gunpowder — but for its ambience. It’s a landscape, like the town bread factory, or a Central Valley cow farm. It takes over the neighborhood, and takes days before it retreats.