A scrapbook of whatever I'm making, collecting, or just obsessing about
at the moment.

Monday, February 3, 2014

Flashback: A Scent Can Break Your Heart

September, 2009

I breathed in a most evocative scent today. For a moment I didn't know where I was.

I'd been walking back up the mall toward the library at lunchtime when I passed a young woman going the other way. While she was still in view I noticed that her nonchalant air was being undermined by one's sense of its being assumed. That set me reflecting about whether it is possible ever to be nonchalant, if trying doesn't work.

But then all that was forgotten as she passed me and I breathed, in her wake, the exact, long-forgotten scent of the powder hand soap that was used, in the 1960s, in the ladies' bathrooms at White Cloud State Park. I recognized it immediately, as if forty years were nothing. Oh, it wafted me back to that park and to my childhood, to the playground and the foot-trail and the log fences, and it made me want to laugh and cry, because I used to own that smell, I used to carry it away with me on freshly washed hands, and it was part of me. It was a nonchalant part of my world, uncherished and almost unnoticed, because we camped there so often, summer after long summer as I grew taller, and how can something that was a part of me be so gone? So gone.

And what was that smell? Is it really gone forever again, so soon after rushing back to me out of nowhere? Should I have run after the girl crying, "Wait, Wait!"?


Happy happy update, spring 2016:  We took a vacation South this year to look at Civil War battlefields and see some Presidential homes. Waiting for the tour of Benjamin Harrison's house to begin, we looked around in the gift shop for a while. I was interested in the different varieties of artisan soaps they had there, and to my amazement, one was the long-lost scent I wrote about here! Of course I bought it immediately, and now it lives as a sachet in my sock drawer! Every few days I lift it out and travel back to White Cloud State Park again.... 

1 comment:

noxy minogue said...

Aww, were it me, I definitely would have flagged her down if such a strong memory could be evoked from her perfume. ♥