And I’m taken back by the scent

The color of everything
fades in the air
but she is the film of a book of a story
of the smell of her hair…

This morning, The Princess and I were standing in line at the post office – I needed a book of stamps and wanted to mail off a check for the money I’d raised with my bake sale for the Avon Walk. An older woman walked in shortly after we did and promptly cut in front of us in line. Feeling mellow and in no particular rush, I decided not to be a jerk, not to call her out – and (as is so rare) just chill and go with the flow.

Until she turned back to speak to me.

As she leaned in to speak (to ask me what I was mailing and to where, if you can believe it), I blanched at the smell. Stale cigarette smoke and a musky smell of I don’t know what, filled the lining of my nose. I couldn’t wait to get out of the post office. Even hours later, the smell lingered in my nose.

Of all of my senses, my sense of smell is by far the strongest. Under normal circumstances, I have this superhuman olfactory sensing skill – during my pregnancies? It was magnified times about a thousand.

My sense of smell is how I know a migraine is coming on – when smells I normally find pleasant or neutral (my shampoo, milk) become overpowering and feel like they are gnawing away at my nasal passages I know it’s probably about time to load up with some headache medicine and hunker down.

But similarly, my sense of smell is a huge link to the past and so many memories are tied in smells.

The other day, I was walking down the street and as I passed a pale yellow two story house, I caught a whiff of Estee Lauder’s Beautiful hanging on the air. This is the perfume my best friend wore all through high school. Beautiful is the scent of getting ready for cheerleading at basketball games, picking out clothes for a night out, sneaking out through her bedroom window to go out after her parents had fallen asleep. With one inhalation I was back in the early 90s with big hair, no wrinkles and nothing but time.

Sometimes the smell of red wine takes me back to my dad’s house. He’s playing piano and the room is dark with a small lamp shining on the keys. A glass sits on a coaster on the piano’s glossy surface.

It should surprise no one that the fragrances that trigger the most immediate reaction are baking smells. The smell of molasses and I am standing in my grandmother’s kitchen cutting rounds of cookie dough and placing them on a baking sheet. A warm cinnamon smell evokes Christmas morning, laughter over plates of monkey bread. The sweet brown sugar aroma of fresh baked chocolate chip cookies means it is one of those days that ends in Y – maybe nothing special, maybe not for any reason, but always out of a peaceful moment, some sort of cookie-induced zen.

It takes so little to transport me from where I am to where I was. Just one deep breath in is all it takes to trigger those senses and memories.

Song lyric, Counting Crows, “On A Tuesday In Amsterdam Long Ago”
About sarah

Sarah is a book nerd, a music lover, an endorphin junkie, a coffee addict. Oh, and a goof ball. She writes, she tweets, and she sings off key.


  1. my mom wore the perfume Red Door and sometimes I go out of my way to try to smell it at the mall because I can close my eyes and see my mom.

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