I enter the art museum intending to check out the thumbs of a certain Greek statue. But before I make it up to Athletes and Competition in the Ancient Mediterranean World, I stop on the marble staircase, just outside the glass doors to the gallery. There it is. That smell. Museum smell — the scent of ionized air, a sharp whiff that launders and starches the nostrils and warns the thumbs to be on their best behavior.
I remember that smell forever, but I was 40 before I bathed, fed, and assigned it a bunk in my conscious mind. It is the scent of slowly wandering. Taking in new worlds. Tilting your head that way and this. Absorbing. Still life with rabbits, wine, and lemons. Single shard of glazed terra cotta. Statue of naked youth with a faint smile on his lips.