Cat finally came back earlier. He was gone for over twenty-four hours. Sometimes, he only goes out for twenty minutes, which is one of those irritating yet endearing things that cats do. Other times, he stays gone for hours, and very occasionally the greater part of the day. As far as memory serves, he's only been gone longer than that once before this time.
This time, he came back smelling like Fairbanks. It's essentially an automotive sort of smell, all carbon monoxide yellows, spent gasoline neon blues, and dripping antifreeze violets. Before I started typing this, he was grooming himself furiously, as if he knew it was there. Of course, that's not what cats are like; that's not how they operate because they see the world differently than I do. The scents are just exciting information to them. I find that admirable. Now he's sitting here on the bed beside me. He still smells like car guts.
I suppose that only makes sense. Fairbanks is a town of cars. Not a town composed of them, or for them, but of them. It has a low population density, and sprawls out in a big loop, requiring a lot of driving from one significant location to the next. This is an industrial town, springing from the womb of mining, fed by the railway, and then formed by the automobile. Even though -40 deg C is an eventual (although remarkable) low during the winter here, we still have to coax the cars into starting to go to work, to run errands, to do much of anything.
Maybe you think other towns smell like this. You'd be partly right: the scent of the highway haunts Dallas, for instance. Hell, maybe Boston does. This town has only that scent to it, though. Dallas has asphault mixed in, along with some hint of something burning. I'll bet Boston is touched by the Atlantic -- although a mildly polluted sense of the Atlantic, perhaps, I'll be able to tell you later.
I wonder... will I smell like this when I step out of this town? Am I marked? Will it stick on my fur, too?