The heat and humidity hit me like a wall when I stepped off the plane at the Dallas/Fort Worth airport. It was always like that, a shock to someone used to the thin dry air of Colorado. As I proceeded down the gangway, I was assailed by a dozen sounds and smells; the monotone murmur of the announcements, the buzz of conversation, the smell of Lysol and beneath it all the heavy scent of jet fuel.

I made my way to the electric shuttle, the familiar knot forming in my stomach.

What if I got off at the wrong terminal? What if I couldn't get on the commuter plane? What if I had to spend the night in the airport?

These were the normal worries of a non-rev passenger, but they were a little more frightening for an adolescent than an adult. So as I got off at the Metro terminal and passed a food stand, the hot, greasy smell of hamburgers, which normally would have been ambrosia to my fourteen year old senses, instead made me feel a bit queasy.

But a half hour later, with the resiliency of youth and after confirming my ticket, I lounged at ease. There was plenty of room on the flight and I'd be on my way soon. I inhaled the smell of hamburgers and jet fuel with new appreciation.

The little commuter plane, a puddle jumper, as my Dad would call it, smelled of mildew and once again that all pervasive smell of Lysol.

What is it with Lysol, anyway?

It just seems to cover up other smells with its sickly perfume, rather than get rid of them. Maybe the manufactures thought it was more pleasant.

Personally, I would have preferred the mildew.

Once on the ground, the heat and humidity hit me again. Tyler Airport did not have gangways. You walked down those horrid, narrow wobbly steps to the tarmac where the temperature was the same as an oven. The stale, poorly air-conditioned airport building seemed heavenly after that short walk across the cement.

But despite the heat, I could never stay inside. Once my call to Gramma had been complete and she was on her way, I ventured back outdoors again. This time I stuck to the grass, still heavy with moisture despite the afternoon sun. As I walked away from the building and the whine of engines, the air grew fresher. I left behind the smell of jet fuel and followed the scent of moist earth, lush grass and ancient trees.

I usually met Gramma at the end of the road, my luggage in tow. I tumbled in to the car and received a typically brief greeting from Gramma. She smelled of soap and stale cigarette smoke and despite the very short, efficient hug, I knew she was glad to see me.

There are no mushy people in my family.

The drive always seemed to take hours, though it was only twenty minutes. My eyes strained for a glimpse of the tree-shrouded house and the millions of rose blossoms and my body begged to finally be out of a moving vehicle.

When we finally arrived, I stepped out into the garage and faint smell of gasoline, grabbed my bags and eagerly followed Gramma up to the house.

The scent of moist earth and deep woods was even more obvious here and I longed to go inside, take off my sticky travel clothes, throw on a pair of short and run down to the woods like a deer on the loose.

But first I had to wait, with the impatience of any fourteen year old, for Gramma to unlock the door. It always seemed to take forever. But finally it was open, she ushered me inside and I stopped on the threshold.

The smell of wood paneling and furniture polish, rigorously applied, assailed me. Over the top of it was the warm, gooey, sweet smell of cookies that had recently come out of the oven.

I closed my eyes for a moment. My journey was finally done, Gramma's woods and the entire summer awaited me.

But for right now, there were peanut butter cookies.