13 January 2011

Smelling the beautiful and the ugly

Most of the time smells can garner more emotion out of me than mere sights and sounds. Nothing is more memorable than a smell. One scent can be unexpected, fleeting, conjuring up long dormant memories. Before I know it a smell can take me to places far beyond my present state.

If I smell a strong plastic odor I am transported to my youth and the plastic playhouse on a pvc frame that I would put up in my backyard. I would play with my dolls in it for hours, on the blanket, playing house.

If I smell honeysuckle I am again transported to my youth and the sweet summer smell of the honeysuckle in full bloom, growing along the fence in our backyard. Which then prompts visions of our pool, friends, and carefree days.

At yesterday's Dr visit, I washed my hands in the bathroom and was instantly transported to a different time and place simply by the smell of the soap.

I was no longer in the bathroom. I was standing at the entrance to the NICU, signing in to go visit my tiny son. I was washing my hands all the way up to my elbows in order to not bring in any germs to his fragile, see-through body. My mind whirled as I remembered the fear as I stood washing my hands and wondering if I would be confronted by the Dr telling me, again, that my son was very, very sick. I felt the anxiousness as I walked down that hall to his pod and hoped that there was not another team of nurses and respiratory therapists surrounding his bed, alarms going off in a full range of scale.

In a microsecond, my mind was transported and I could do nothing to change where it was going. The smell of the soap and the strong emotion it evokes are reminiscent of a time that I would never want to repeat in a million years. And yet I relive it every time I smell that soap.

Nothing revives the past so completely as a smell that was once associated with it.- Vladimir Nabokov

Do you have smells that trigger a strong response in you?

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