New Realities of Motherhood

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Olfactory Spirits

I have been feeling reminiscent the past few days. Childhood events are revisiting me. Several of my senses are the messengers of these events.

Have you ever had one of those moments when a smell reminds you of a person or a place. The smell of Juicy Fruit gum always reminds me of standing in my grandma's kitchen in Chicago. Whenever she opened her purse, you could smell the gum. I can remember the room and where she kept her purse and standing on her squeaky apartment floors. I always revisit the apartment when I smell that gum. I like that it reminds me of my grandma.

Then there are the strange instances when from out of nowhere a smell will fill your senses from some unknown origin. The smell of a perfume, or a baked good. Neither of these things are actually in the vicinity, but somehow you are picking up the memory of the smell and maybe even the accompanying event. Maybe its a co-mingling of scents actual? Usually its like I am just remembering a smell. Cake is a smell that spiritually visits me. I don't remember the event that goes with the olfactory memory, but the smell is familiar and comforting.

Warm days remind me of lunching in our backyard. On occasion my mom would set the cushions outside and my dad would bring home hot dogs or hamburgers and root beer and we would have patio lunch on Saturday afternoon. These were the days when bringing fast food home was a treat. The memory invoked a desire to relive the event with my daughter one day this summer. I said. "Its so beautiful out. I am going to get Wendy's and we are going to have a patio lunch like I remember having when I was a kid." "Why?" she asks. "Because it was so fun when I was little." So my "no-cute-face-eating-vegetarian" gives me her salad order and I head out to purchase the edible ingredients to recreate my childhood memory.

Yes, comfort is what these memories are bringing. I am not going back to stressful moments but pleasing ones. It also makes me long for those simpler times...... I need a break from decisions, planning, cleaning, bill paying, and working. I miss riding my bike up to the Colonial Restaurant on Algonquin Road and buying $1.50 plated french fries and splitting a slice of Coconut Cream pie with my friend and then going two doors down to the pharmacy to read all the funny cards. Or picking fresh tomatoes off the vine and eating them like apples.... picking apples from the trees in the neighbor's yard behind our house. Catching lightening bugs in jars. Playing flashlight tag. kick the can, and street softball with all the kids in the neighborhood. Are you remembering some childhood simplicities now too?

I miss finding personal mail in my mailbox. A envelope containing a handwritten address in the mailbox outside of a holiday is mysterious. Too old to really get wedding invites from friends, and everyone uses email now. Mail that is greeting card size in the mix of junk mail, grocery coupons, and credit card offers is exciting. Even my bills come in my email now. Remember those little party invitations you would hand deliver? My birthday is in winter so I remember walking through cold and crisp snow to my neighbor's mailboxes. Remember getting valentines? I saved some of them. The elementary signatures on them is again comforting. I also saved letters from childhood pen pals and boy friends. We wrote about the most trivial things. Even the simplest things were a big deal to worry about then. I saved the notes we passed in class- one is a pretend love note  a friend and I wrote to each other during chemistry. He was paralyzed after a post prom accident in high school so finding the letter was particularly meaningful. Email memories are void of that physical application of someone sharing and saving their signature on a paper thought.

I like the convenience of technology- but I miss the comforts of simplicity. My daughter's generation will not have these memories. She is growing up enveloped in technology. Will there be sensory memories for a generation of technology children? I wonder if she is ever visited by olfactory spirits. I will be baking cookies for her return home from college next month. A house smelling of cookies would be a nice spirit to visit her later in life when she is reminiscing.

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