The first place that sprang to mind is from the past, the cabin my parents owned in Twenty-Nine Palms. It smelled dusty, of course, as it hadn't been opened in years when we first went to see it. Dusty felt pennants hung from the rafters. It had no paneling, so dust clung to the walls. It was that desert dust -- dry dirt, not dust from skin and mites. It took a few weekends to make it livable.
At first, it was cleaning up; pulling all those pennants, finding little treasures like the china frog with a violin that I still have, the covered-wagon nightlight in the garage, and the Indian basket, fading on my kitchen wall. Vacuuming. Learning to use an outhouse without breathing. Lots of smell memories with this place. Smell of desert flowers in spring, fresh windy smells. Cooking smells -- Dennison's chili, heated in the electric skillet, mom lifting the lid just a bit to stir so the sand wouldn't blow in, table made of the paneling across saw horses. Gallo red wine, a big bottle with a screw top, consumed by my parents and their friends, who got funnier and funnier as the evening wore on (being a kid, maybe 14 or 15, I was the designated listener). Not so funny, or good-smelling, when my dad heaved it back up during the night. At least we had a bathroom by then. It was good aversive therapy for me, though; I sure didn't want to drink for a few years! Wood fire.
How it looked... Inside, small, cozy. In need of expansion, which became my parents' project and hobby. It had a big picture window, looking south. Beautiful view, as we were the last house on the road before the wash. We looked across open desert to the mountains. If you looked closely, or with binoculars, you could see cars traveling along the highway near the foothills. You could tell when the horses were looking at them, too. Look east, you could see town. North, the Marine base. West, sunset over some other hills. Kris and I rode up one of them, in deep sand, past sidewinder tracks. Reb and Amigo were good trail horses. Plants that flowered briefly and left behind a cage of stems; easter lilies that wept; a desiccated cowboy boot; cactus wrens and roadrunners and the tortoise that chased me as I fed it lettuce.
Sounds -- never any rattlesnakes. Horses whinnying for dinner. Coyotes, and a bobcat growl once, as we rode past a den. Wind. 70 mph sandstorm one weekend that nearly had my dad airborne as he carried the faux-wood paneling from the roof of the station wagon into the cabin. The sound of sand pelting the windows. And the coolest of all -- the metal clothesline poles whose holes for the lines whistled musically in the wind. KDHI Radio, where the listenin's fun! They played old country music, and read the local news. Crime reports, like laundry missing from clotheslines. (Not singing clotheslines like ours, I'm sure.)
Tastes -- there's that chili, of course. Coca-cola, in bottles, ice cold after a long ride.
Touch. That's harder. Ribbed orange bedspreads my mom put on the three twin beds that lined the walls. I still have one I use at the beach. The rose-colored couch that was kind of scratchy. Soft, fat miniature Schnauzer. The cold, hard concrete floor, covered in cheap sheet vinyl. Fast, not-too-warm showers, once the bathroom was built and the cesspool put in. Dad bragging about how fast he could shower, and my retort, "Yes, but you're still dirty." Mom's laughter. He was a good sport.
It was the only place I ever imagined living, once I was out of college. I thought about living alone, with two horses and four dogs (big ones), doing my art and working for someone in 2-9, maybe a printer. I got married instead. Mark and I went out a few times, even taking our bible study group for a weekend once. Then mom and dad sold the place. My favorite place.