INTERPOLATION, DWUORD ARYAN
It took me a while to get used to the animals – the cats, the dogs, the chickens, and whatnot. They fit their ecological niches in understandable ways, but they weren’t the same as the animals we had at home. And it isn’t the same to see them on TV and then have them actually rub up against you. It is, as a matter of fact, horrifying at first. Particularly the cats.
But it doesn’t take long to acclimate to them; to realize that a cat is profoundly innocent. A chicken has no brain to speak of. A dog seems to have some concept that he is doing something bad, or good, depending on the action. But a cat does everything the same – kills and purrs, plays with a ball of string or a moribund mouse, the same in either case. We have no such thing on my home world; it is unsettling to think too much about cats, and thank your stars they are not larger. But one grows accustomed to them, particularly if one realizes they live pretty much without reference to human beings … or us.
What persisted in strangeness was the smells.
That is something for which radio and TV do not prepare you. And it is pervasive; there is nowhere on Earth you can go to escape the smell of Earth.
When we first landed, there was the rich smell of the bog, and then the scent of pines. The one was thick, and clogged the nostrils, and was deceptively familiar, for it was largely the smell of decay. The pines were more difficult: astringent, so that the mucus membranes dried up and tingled, and the throat felt peculiar. But the smell of her, thick with human sweat, cigarette smoke, and liquor, was exotic and oddly titillating, whereas the smell of the farm, with its dog, cat, and chicken feces, its odor of mold and dust in the barn, was hard to take at first.
But it was the cars that really struck me as exotic. They were so different from what we had: different fuel, odd cooling systems, pervasive lubricants. I loved it. I purely loved it. Cars seemed to me to speak more clearly of Earth than any single thing else, and I was going to be of the Earth. I was. It was the only course of action that made sense. Soon enough, I promised myself, no one would be able to tell me from an Earthman … at least on the inside.