Waking up in the morning without a headache is wonderful for me.

Over the years, it’s gotten so I don’t even have to open my eyes to know if my old friend the Migraine Fairy has come by for a visit and left me with another lovely gift to begin the day.

Was it a result of tension? Hunger? Anxiety? Dehydration? A combo platter of all of them?

I ascend from REM sleep’s foggy warmth to feel the weight of my head hard on the hot indentation pressed into the middle of my pillow. ThenI reach out with my Spidey Senses to discern if pain is there waiting there to greet me.

I’m delighted to learn that today is pretty much OK, all things considered. Just a thick tongue, dry mouth, and a crackly, stiff mid back.

I shrug on my beat-up studio hoodie, semi-dirty sweatpants, and Chuck Taylors, select the next baseball hat in my rotation, and reach for the bedroom door handle.

Pausing, I can hear sounds coming up through the old wood floor. My wife is getting the dog her breakfast kibble and then going out for their morning constitutional.

Opening the door, I walk out into the hall, stop, and lift my right foot up to my knee to pop on the folded down canvas sneaker heel. And that’s when it hit me.

The smell.

It was THAT smell.

First it hit me in the nose and then in my heart.

It was the same smell that I smelled when I walked into my parent’s house.

Not quite the old people smell yet, but maybe probably pre-old people smell or what could be referred to as geezer-adjacent.

I’m betting this is why they invented potpourri. “They”being somebody over 50 years old that visited their parents and thought, “Good heavens, this can’t go on.”

But it will go on, until the end of everyone’s stay.

And then a new couple will come along and buy the house and update the color scheme and the wallpaper, cook different foods, use different soaps and fragrances and cleaning stuff.

They’ll do mostly the same stuff we did, just the updated version of the same stuff. Raising their family that will ultimately grow up and then move away.

And Mum and Dad will be left there, looking a little like their Mum and Dad before them. But hopefully not too much. They’ll have coffee together and talk about how grand it will be to travel now and do all the things they’ve always wanted to do.

The conversations will always include excited declarations of “I’ve always dreamed of…”, “Bucket Lists” and “Before I die, I have to see this or eat that…”

I believe the smell weaves its way out from the tangle of towels and forgotten flat sheets in the linen closet. It comes from under the sink with the brittle cardboard containers of Bon Ami Powder Cleanser and rusted tins of saddle soap, Windex, Brasso, a half full gallon of Dawn dish soap and contorted and mummified Scotch Brite sponges.

It’s the scent of everything that was once vital, and now has passed.

It renders no judgment, has no rating for its bouquet based on annual income or societal status, as all things are equal in the eyes of passing time. This tang is simply all the years converted into an aroma that declares the end of an era, and with it the beginning of the next.

Like the white smoke declaring a new Pope, or the smell of gunpowder, wafting slowly across hillsides, filling spectators’ nostrils after fireworks.

All the glorious explosions, the ripping sizzling noises made by countless colorful sparklers to form dazzling flowers blooming for just a few moments in the night sky. Then, everyone is looking skyward again, watching as the mortar launches the next shell up through the cordite clouds and into the heavens. There’s laughter, oohhs and aahhs and gasps filled with delight for the garish new display.

Slowly, the fireworks fade, the reflective confetti falling somewhere downwind and out of sight. The sounds still echo in our ears and the smell of gunpowder enfolds us. Everyone waits for a minute or two to make sure that it’s really over, then someone gets up and folds their blanket, starting the move to the exits.

The memory settles very quietly, like a cat climbing into your lap and going to sleep, but it will return when least expected to signal an ending and another beginning.