November 5, 2016, 2:30 am
Filed under: Uncategorized

Some people are highly sensitive to textures, tastes, specific sounds. These things can transport them back to a time or a person who left such a lasting impression in their lives that they now associate a sense with them. That transcends having “our song” or “our movie” or even “our poem”. Songs, movies, words can all be erased. You can banish them from your mind and pretend that it never happened. These memories, good or bad, depend on things. Things that you can touch or see or hear.


I, on the other hand, am highly sensitive to scents. My memories can be charted through different scents. I can tell you where I was standing. What I was thinking.

My first scent association is the old school rubber baby bottle nipples–the big thick yellow ones. I don’t know how young I was –I also remember learning to walk so I’m a bit of a weirdo with memory in general–but when I bought a set for Mia back when we couldn’t figure out why she wouldn’t drink formula, I sat in the rocking chair with her and pictured my childhood as far back as I could go.

One of the strongest associations I have is the scent of woods and sea. This is a smell exclusive to the Maine coast. There is a wonderful lay of land up the cold and rocky coast. We would stay all summer at a small cottage literally on a boulder covered beach. It was tucked away in a wooded area–you had to park your car in a clearing off of the road and then walk a path to even get to the house. Among those trees you could smell damp earth, eternally damp –petrichor, my favorite scent in the world, moss, pine trees. It smelled starkly clean but also deep. Deep what? I don’t know. Just deep. Like you had left civilization and you were buried deep somewhere. The woods literally backed up right to the sea. The lichen covered boulders where my sister and I would teeter on also had barnacles on them.Two elements violently colliding.

When you are that close to the ocean, the salty smell is thick. It reminds me of northeasters that would happen almost every summer. It reminds me cormorants sunning themselves first thing in the morning. It reminds me of  the juniper and small blue berries that we would pick and leave for the fairies that obviously had to live in a place like this. Forest and sea salt will always make me feel young and vast.

There are smaller associations, too. Overpowering leather as we stood in Dexter Shoes while my mother tried to convince us for the 60th time that we should really have boat shoes for school.

Lilacs for summers at my house growing up. Spending all day in the pool and then sunning ourselves in the driveway that was lined with lilac bushes.

Abercrombie Woods cologne during high school because I swear to god every boy wore it.

Old Spice for my father.

Some ridiculous German perfume for my mother, when she would go out draped in some fur coat that had been left to her.

Sandlewood and incense on a tee shirt.

The Sunflower scented candle that I don’t even think Yankee Candle sells anymore. I remember being in fifth grade, sixth grade and going through my witch phase–ladies, we all had that, admit it.

The scent of the hippie store in Maine that I would somehow always find myself. Naga champ, hemp, oils. I remember specifically my first year in college and being given money from my parents to buy Christmas gifts and my whole horde of dorm friends flocked into there. After, we went back to my room, which was highly decorated for Christmas, and we sat on the floor, wrapping our gifts and feeling like adults maybe for just one second.

Do you see? Do you see how the time line forms?  Sometimes when asked about the order of how things happened in my past, I have a hard time recalling in a conventional way. But, if I concentrate on the memory of scents, I am transported.

We all have ghosts. We are all haunted. It’s just a matter of conjuring them and how long you let them linger.

If you have a hard time remembering details; if you think you are not in tune with your past or with your own creativity, change the way you think about things. Don’t stand there, eyes clamped shut, trying to conjure how something or someone looked. Move on to the next sense. You will find what you are looking for.



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