The sense of smell is a peculiar thing.
The raspberry scent of a particular red rose sends me back to my childhood when my mother grew a beautiful rose-bush in a bucket painted white. It was so beautiful she took pictures of all her daughters standing beside it.
New plastic binders smell like the Barbie camper I unwrapped Christmas morning when I was eight years old.
A peppermint/chocolate combination makes my stomach turn because at ten I ate them one evening, promptly got sick to my stomach then ended up in the hospital for two months…not from the peppermint but from something totally unrelated.
I still can’t help but associate mint with trauma.
But yesterday was interesting. The temperature must have been just right, the amount of humidity and dust in the air perfect, for conjuring up the memory of an emotional summer and an old boyfriend from (literally) the days of yore.
It was a hot summer and I was in love. Seriously, I was. But things weren’t going as they were supposed to as things tend not to do with matters concerning the heart.
Nothing was simple.
Nothing was consistent.
And I reeked of insecurity. Wore it like a thick oozing blanket actually. I would spend a lot of time with the boy trying figure out exactly what the reality of our situation was.
But he was mostly blurred lines and abstract innuendo.
Late into the night we’d talk and I’d try to understand
and then I’d drive home in the dark into my parking lot and walk up into my condo.
And I remember the smell.
The dryness. The heat. The stale air that hadn’t been stirred in what seemed like a lifetime.
It was the smell of confusion.
The smell of disappointment.
And simply the smell of sadness.
Yesterday, when I smelled little twinges of that same smell in the foyer of my building, I was transported to that summer,
but this time without the heavy heart and instead with a sense of amusement. A sense of how much emotional growth can occur over time. That recognition that I actually am wiser than I was (sometimes it’s really difficult to tell as my default setting to most emotional situations is “uber-melodramatic”).
And it really is wondrous, the interconnectedness of it all. The past visiting through smell, triggering a memory, recognizing a lesson, acknowledging growth.
All we have to do is pay attention.