Monday, September 10, 2012

The Scent of a Memory

Monday, September 10, 2012
Wordsworth called memory the "inward eye."  Are your memories more sight-based, or do they concern sound, taste, touch, or smell?

My oldest memories seem to be smell centered.

The smell of our basement in our first home.  I would play, or more likely just be in the way, while my mom sewed or did laundry.  I remember vaguely a tiny little room with a sewing area on the left and some kind of brownish rug or carpet.

I remember the smell of my grandma's house, the first house I remember her in.  A food smell, snippets.  Sugary cinnamon pie crust bits.  Chlorine and hot rail road ties.  Humid hot farm fields.  Pets.  Fabric.

I remember sneaking into Christine's room.  It glowed orange and her bed was the most comfortable place in the world to be.  She had high school grown up girl nick-knacks in her room.  Ylang Ylang or something like it in a compact as a perfume.  The smell of Cover Girl blush.  I still smell it every time I buy a new one.  Leather.

There was the smell of hot car in summer.  Leather and vinyl and chrome.  Beach towels to sit on, on the way to Baskin Robbins for a cone.

Another grandma had a home that smelled of cigarettes and old time foods. Sauerbraten, potato salad, and hot pickled beets.  It smelled like dirt and flowers and grass.  The basement smelled like wood.  The breezeway had it's own smell I can only describe as my grandparents.

Some of my memories are less memory and more comfort.  I live in a house very similar in layout and style to the one I most associate with my grandma and many good family memories.

The feeling of sleeping on the sofa by the TV, just on the other side of the special doors while the adults played cards in the evening.  Always after a big meal and many times after a day spent in grandma's pool.  I remember going down those pebble filled steps between the pool and the garden so many times.  All the tiers with their flower beds and the enormous garden.

I remember the basement being a kind of forbidden zone, but knowing their were cabinets filled with Carol's art things.  I remember the square crayons in the round metal tin and the smell of that box when it was opened and all that old scrap paper we used to color on for hours.

My house in middle school was out in a new subdivision.  It smelled like cows and farms and empty fields.  The new houses being built smelled like mud and wood.  The crick always smelled like worms and mud, with it's slippery green rocks.  The late August orchard apple smell carried past the fence and tempted us more than once to slip over and eat one or two.

In high school the pool smell was in my back yard, while the smell of concession stand hot dogs filled my house.  The school in it's empty hours had it's own smells, whether it was cheer leading practice or hanging around in the band room.  It was the 80's so the locker room only smelled like hair spray.

College smelled like beer and skunk and sailing.  Burnt pizza and The Dr.

Now, my house smells like kids and food and sports.  It smells like laundry running all the time and toothpaste and Axe.  It smells like toad.  Sometimes this house smells faintly of cigarettes from the previous owners.  It smells like fireplace or fire pit.  It smells like Scotch and baseball and hope and wine.  It still smells like pizza and beer.

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