The sounds and smells of the Queen City

College Street at Sunset

What you may not realize about driving a scooter is that there’s no radio. No music to distract you from the road, no mouth talking about the traffic or the weather. It’s just you and the road and sounds around you.

This is lovely when you’re on a long ride through no where. All you hear is the wind sliding across you and your bike. There’s just the wickwick sound of the wheels rolling over the pavement mile after mile, mixed in with the occasional growl, roar or whish of a car passing by.

In the city, however, there is a riot of noises. The clackclack of wheels over tracks, the beeps of some grumpy driver, the crazy roars and rumbles of jacked up Civics and Buicks. The chatter of folks walking past, the beepbeepbeep of the crosswalks, and the voice wafting off the bus announcing what intersection you’re at.

I love these sounds. I love listening to the life of the city as I roll gently through it, to hear the soft muffled sounds of life as it passes us by.

I was raised in the country. The sounds I was familiar with before I moved to Charlotte were lowing cows and running tractors. Back home I can tell you what part of the growing season we’re in based on which manure (they have distinctly different smells) was spread on the fields.

In Charlotte, I can tell you the time of day by the smells of food and fumes, the sounds of the city rolling around me. Lunch is coming when the hot dog carts roll out and the smell of boiled meat & chili fill the city streets. The post work rush hits with trains run more often and you hear the soft clickclack of dress shoes on the pavement.

As I was walking down Tryon today I was reminded of why I love the city during the day so much – the focused people in suits walking down the street, the smell of coffee seeping out of Starbucks, the cool day’s air swirling around us all.

I love the city at night too. Festive people out for drinks and dates and nights out with friends. The clatter and laughter and loud music thrumming out of clubs. Beautiful people and their perfumes swishing past you as their skirts ruffle against their legs.

How can I not love a city that is so sparklingly alive, day and night, so full of smells and sounds and life that every time I ride my scooter along it streets or walk between it’s towering marvels of glass and steel, that I feel alive, human and amazed at it’s marvels?