I love the smell of kerosene on Amsterdam Schiphol International Airport. The one in Newark, New York has a good smell too. Bristol International does not have the perfect kerosene smell, but it comes close. Well, if that is not politically incorrect, I don’t know what is.

People, I just can’t help it. The smell reminds me of adventures and family and friends’ visits, the ones I count as the best experiences I’ve had in my life. It does mean that I fly the world over for work and to visiting my loved ones, but I do recycle, compost, buy local produce and products and I do love my chickens my neighbours and I keep.

Here’s another one. I like the smell of tarmac and of freshly laid tar paper on a shed roof and when that tarry whiff is accompanied with the soft cooing of a turtle dove on a warm summer afternoon, my happiness is boundless.

The long walk on the hot, nearly melting tarmac of Paramaribo Airport, Suriname on the northern coastline of South America is one I will not forget lightly. I almost kissed the simmering surface. We (two sisters and I) were just released from a massive Boeing after a ten-hour flight, together with at least two school classes of noisy and fidgety spotty adolescents. They bumped into my seat for the duration of the flight and after friendly and later not so friendly remarks and requests I succumbed to their inability to comprehend that they were not the best that could ever happen to this world at this moment in time. Their school must have been on an exchange program with a Suriname school; their uniformly worn t-shirts shouted the slogan “Living Together! We Know How!”…..

The photo I took of myself and my two sisters, holding the camera on arm-length distance, shows a certain very politically incorrect hand gesture, just above our heads; a teenagers’ way of taking revenge on three middle-aged slightly overweight women. This was, by the way, the politically incorrect way my mother described us three younger siblings when my sister in Suriname pondered if she would recognise us after having not seen us for a long time.

Today’s smell of a moped driving by takes me back to my first boyfriend. Protective headgear was not mandatory yet and my parents were concerned about my safety in many ways. They were standing at the gate, wringing their hands, watching their youngest daughter being snapped away by a 16-year-old boy with the nickname Fox. Adventure and possibly a kiss or two were expected from my side, accompanied with that delightful smell of gasoline. And sometimes, when I stop at the petrol/diesel pump filling up my car, smelling those car smells, a distinct sense of freedom takes a hold of me.

I have flown, been driven and drive for my work and for visiting family and friends. I have to live with the notion that I very politically/environmentally incorrect have to use a plane and a car and possibly a boat or two for the foreseeable future, if I want to get to the ones I call my nearest and dearest. I do walk as much as possible and use public transport when present, wherever I land. I still have to work on learning to love the smells of train stations and bus terminals. I’m getting there.

Mother Earth, can you hear me above the monotonous drone of our traffic? I want to thank you for your gifts of metal, fuel and other materials that make it possible for me to travel, being loved and to love in return. I promise you I will conscientiously use these gifts. That’s the best I can do for you. For now.

– Karin Schluter Lonegren