The Smell of My Life

This morning I used up the last drops of my body spray, and the timing couldn’t have been more perfect with the onset of Autumn. I have this weird quirk, you see, of changing my “scent” for every major season or phase of my life. I don’t like to perfume-hop. There is a really good reason for this. I have always associated memories from my childhood with smells. You know when you get a whiff of your mother’s old perfume and it takes you right back to a certain time and place and suddenly a memory, more vivid and colorful than ever before, bursts into your mind? You laugh at something you’d forgotten, and you smile for the rest of the day when you think about it. Yeah – that’s why I do what I do.

The summer of 2014 will always smell like Sensual Sunset from Victoria’s Secret Garden. The scent was discontinued years ago. Someday, they will bring it back or some other perfume company will put out something similar, and when I’m walking past someone wearing it I’ll go back to this season. I’ll remember my baby sister’s wedding, and all of the associated parties and gatherings. I’ll remember the girls’ weekend my friends and I took to Mesquite. I’ll remember the day my baby girl turned two, the day I spread my dog’s ashes in the mountains, and the horrible toothache that resulted in my first root canal. I’ll remember my husband’s 40th birthday bash in the mountains of Utah and the release of my third novel.

When I want to remember my pregnancy with my son more than eight years ago, I go to Tomigirl by Tommy Hilfiger. Moonlight Path takes me to my best friends’ condo in Reno in the winter months post college graduation. I moved in with them to save money for my trip to Europe. We’d sit on the roof, drink gin and tonics and smoke American Spirits while chatting away and looking at the unobstructed view of downtown Reno. Lavender oil takes me to the summer I backpacked New Zealand with my best friend. Senior year in high school is all Jovan White Musk. Japanese Cherry Blossoms takes me to the Fall I hiked the Grand Canyon, rim-to-rim.

Anytime I smell passionfruit, I am transported to a European summer; squatting in London; getting spit on at the train station in Paris because I am American; riding bikes to the beach in Barcelona and chilling out in the sand with sangria; celebrating the fourth of July in Rome with a group of American soldiers stationed in Germany; being dragged to a piano at an Italian streetside restaurant to pound out Ballin’ the Jack and the theme to Dr. Zhivago while the old Italian musicians waltzed with female patrons on the sidewalk (I earned us a free dessert with my playing!); an amazing roadtrip through the Swiss Alps; roaming the streets of Salzburg in the rain; the crazy albino who ran the hostel in Prague; the beer festival in Wurzburg; falling in love…that’s what passionfruit means to me.

Most of the time, depending on the size of the perfume bottle, I don’t use up all of the perfume in one season. The great thing about that is that I can retrieve whatever memories I want by simply walking over to the top of my dresser and pulling open a bottle. It’s like a lifetime of yearbooks on my dresser, only prettier. And when I really want to go back, I’ll wear the scent for a day. Now, I just have to decide what I want my Autumn to smell like.

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2 Comments

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2 responses to “The Smell of My Life

  1. Sandi

    It’s so true that smells can bring back memories of the past from people that you have shared an experiences with or a loved one long gone. Sounds maybe funny but when my grandmother or my mothers “scent” somehow “drift” by I like to think they are paying me a visit and sometimes both the scent and the memories bring comfort. 🙂

    • I have the same thing, Sandi! Every once in a while I will get a whiff of my favorite uncle’s scent, and it will be somewhere enclosed – like in my car. I’ll say “Hey, Erland!” 🙂

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