Touch is considered one of the most intimate of senses. We use words like caress, graze, and stroke, as a way to describe the beautiful act of touch when it is taking place. I believe that the sense of smell is often overlooked. It is not as intimate as touch, but in another sense, it can be.
I was driving home after a long day of school and work. Night had fallen and the city was lit up like the starry sky. I had my windows down circulating the dry air as the city lights darted past me in a haze. A familiar scent wafted my way. Was it laundry detergent? Was it fabric softener? I couldn’t exactly pinpoint what my nose was perceiving, but it brought back nostalgia. It was just when I moved into my new apartment. It was my first time buying laundry supplies. I picked the one that was the cheapest and had the best fragrance. When I did my laundry it usually made the house smell like fresh linens. To me, it was a new beginning. A start to a new week.
Another smell made its way through my open windows. It smelled of fresh toast. It reminded me of all the times I would spend at my great grandmother’s house. Every morning my mother would drop me off so she could go to work. We’d do our goodbye ritual. I would kiss her on the lips, on each cheek, an Eskimo kiss and a butterfly kiss. When we did this I knew that this was only a goodbye for a little while and that we must part ways. My great grandmother always started making breakfast when I arrived. She’d make scrambled eggs, sausage, and toast. She always made my eggs first because she knew that I had to have mine fresh off of the pan. The smell of breakfast was intoxicating. The fresh toast, the ground coffee and the sizzling of the sausage. I would usually watch my morning cartoons as she prepared for the day.
Why do certain scents illicit such vivid memories? Something as simple as a smell will instantly take you back to an exact instant in time.
I can recall one instance where the small of soap instantly reminded me of my preschool days. All these memories came flooding back as if they happened yesterday. I could remember the red mat and koala blanket that I would sleep on for nap, I could remember the long walks we’d take as our teacher would tell us stories about dinosaurs and I could remember watching movies like Lion King and Bug’s Life on the TV and shouting “it’s over, it’s over!” when the credits rolled. How did I recall so much from one scent?