(90) Smell

Hubs is one of those peeps who sometimes smells things. He gets to traipse through life being occasionally influenced by the ish his nose is telling him. I am one of those peeps who smell everything; I spend much of my life trying to decide how much of a meltdown I want to let a certain odor give me.

We have five pets.

Meltdown is my favorite pair of adulting panties.

Sometimes it’s not so much panties as it is a duvet. That I stay wrapped in until such time as being alive is not a festival of cat vomit, dog feet, and last week’s dinner because of course I’m only going to smell stale memories instead of the fresh ones.

It’s not all bad, though. My memory is fettered so intricately to my sense of smell that I will pull nostalgia from a certain kind of mushroom cooked a certain way and leave my current reality entirely until the flashback has run its course. I spent much of my adulthood avoiding shiitake mushrooms (?? I don’t know. I’m ridiculous). When I finally got back into them, I decided to put them in a mushroom soup. I sautéed all of them in a pan first, and the second they hit butter and garlic, I remembered my mom in our teeny kitchen with plywood cabinets, prepping veggies next to a huge stock pot, listening to Mahler and chatting to herself about how veggie selection in this country was a crock of shit dipped insults. I wasn’t ready for that memory, and I burned the garlic. But, shiitake mushrooms are now amongst my favorite (and I am a huge mushroom fan); that memory gives me more flavor and texture with every offering, and I can’t undo the history that happens every time I breathe.

Weather wafts its own nostalgic triggers, too. There’s a certain day in spring that happens every year. If I stand just outside our house, sometimes from the front porch, I can smell pine and flowers and change in the salty breeze. It is exactly the smell that happened whenever I arrived at summer camp during my high school years. The smell is only there for a brief teasing moment, and then it’s gone till next year. If I’m not on the porch for it, I’ll miss the thrall of my teen years and that infant, eager, hope in my lack of experience. Lacking the three or four inhales that solidify the reality of my youth, and are crucial to my current countenance and my investment, is a loss I will not willingly suffer. So I make sure to catch those gasps and savor each one.

Because I have this fraught hold on odor, I’m always immediately ensconced by a place or a moment that holds no nostalgia for me; an entirely new scent. (AHAHA maybe this is why wines. Shhhh what. Today is my day off. Your face is wines.) My summer home is one of them. Every year, I get to relearn the smell of the storms and the raunchy capriciousness of the breezes. It is the only place I’ve ever been that is both home and without nostalgia of any kind. I can be me unfettered and me that is new and experienced, simultaneously. I can breathe the sky and the trees and the hilly forever roads, and enjoy the inhale for what it is at that exact moment and nothing else. I can be present, and it doesn’t have to involve forgetting anything unless I want it to. Free breathing is best only in comparison, and I will have mine slow and steady until it is time for fall.