Tuesday, August 10, 2010

The Strength of Smell

The human olfactory sense is known to be the strongest of the 5. And I must say, my nose and I are inclined to agree.

Something about scent, no matter how faint, has the ability to transport me right back to a very specific moment in time. It's a pretty powerful thing.

My obsession with melon of all kinds leads to 2 things: 1) a component of my breakfast that I bound out of bed for, and 2) a vast build-up of melon rinds in the trash can which, a day or two later, creates an odor so nastily nauseous that I am forced to tie up the trash bag and drag it out to the outdoor trash, all while taking great pains to breathe solely through my mouth.

Upon stepping outside on this 90+ degree day in August, something happens. I'm free to open my nose after the offending bag is safely stowed in the huge gray bin that lives for every other Monday when the trash pick-up truck arrives. I breathe in, blink, and find myself standing on my grandparents' cement driveway in a late summer Atlanta suburb. Standing in my swimsuit, impatiently waiting for my brother and cousins to put their shoes on and for my grandmother to pee one final time, I'm completely unaware that my memory is taking marked notice of the smell of sun-soaked stone and dirt, with the rare sweet breeze blowing by every so often. I can almost smell the heavily chlorinated pool with its blissfully cool water awaiting me. I can feel the slap of my sandals against my feet as I race with others on the steamy blacktop, and the rough, rutted surface of the white diving board.

And then I blink again, and I'm back on my own stone patio, in a Massachusetts suburb, in August. 

Have you ever felt the "strength of smell"?

I know this is a little different than what I usually write; I've been reading MFK Fisher nonstop and it seems to be rubbing off on me, for better or worse. More on that later.

In other news...I'm going to Austin, Texas on Wednesday! It's to train for my job as Peer Mentor with my study abroad program, API. I'm really excited - about the job and the travel. I've never been to Texas! I'll update tomorrow, but I do intend to bring my laptop & Lulu with me. New places means new food! (And less lofty writing ;)



  1. Looking forward to your visit! Will have to come up with some recommendations for you :)

  2. Beautiful writing, BG. One of my earliest memories (prior to 3), is the smell of rain coming through a dusty screen in the heat of an Atlanta summer. Can still smell it. Sniff on!