One of my favorite lines from a TV show was from the old sitcom Sanford and Son. Fred Sanford enters a house in an upscale neighborhood, something he hasn’t encountered before. He walks in the front door and takes a deep breath. “This house ain’t got no smell!” he quickly observes.
When Michelle went to camp last summer, she pulled me aside on the night we were packing.
“Can I take one of your t-shirts to camp?”
“I guess. Is there a particular one you’d like to borrow?”
“No. I just like your smell.”
I’m glad she’s fond of my odiferousness. She may be the only one.
I’ve always had a strong olfactory sense. Jesse would use a towel until I could smell the sour as I walked down the basement steps.
“Dude – what is that smell?”
“What are you talking about? I don’t smell anything.”
“Burn it – I’ll buy a new one.”
It’s amazing the memories that are attached to the nose.
One day I smelled my grandmother, Idee, in the drugstore although she’d been dead for years. As I sniffed down the aisle, I came across a familiar round box. Inside it contained her Coty powder. Mmmm – it brought happiness to my soul.
At the Y, there would be a distinct smell on the first day of summer as 300 sweaty little kids began tromping through the halls between games of kickball and swimming. A nice mixture of chlorine and gunk – just like when I was a child.
Recently I put Lisa’s perfume in a drawer. It had been sitting on the dresser since before she died. I imagine its five years old. When she first died, I’d make it a point to open the bottle of Cocoa by Chanel and take a deep whiff. At the time, it didn’t bring joy. Instead that scent represented the gaping holes that had torn through my life.
There is a difference between accidentlly running into a smell that fills your soul with memories and aggressively seeking out ways to retrace your grief. I’m sure there’s a place for both, but it’s important for me not to allow myself to linger in Chanel.
Part of growth is figuring out how to pack up the perfume. Then, when it pops up unexpectedly, perhaps it will bring joy.