Coming home tonight through Columbia Heights with the car windows down, nice night, it suddenly smelled powerfully of Eastern Europe outside. That slightly sweet burning-coal smell that anyone who’s spent time over there knows well. Not a DC smell at all, it definitely was not just a barbeque somewhere.

It’s amazing how evocative an odor can be. Put me right back in early 1990s Prague - stale trams, monochrome days, horrible cigarettes and incredible beer, crumbling sooty streets. An air of both nostalgia and expectancy. Beauty and tenderness and darkness. Teetering between past and future. Ghosts not quite dissipated but the horsemen of globalism not yet arrived. Not sure any atmosphere will ever match it.

I sat there for an extra moment at the stoplight, head out the window, inhaling.