Saturday, April 6, 2013

Scent memories




The other day, I was cleaning out my closet, and my daughter was looking on trying to see what treasures she could recover from my clutter. I found an old silver necklace of my mother’s that she had given to me several years before. My mom had been the last person to wear the necklace, and as I handed it to my daughter to survey, she smelled it…
“Hmmmm,” she said, “it smells like metal and Mimi.”
I hadn’t told my daughter that this was her grandmother’s necklace… I didn’t have to… her nose did all of the analysis.
 Connected to the limbic system in our brains, the sense of smell is an instant, uncensored conduit to both the realities and memories of any given moment. The limbic system is our mind’s memory storeroom, the regulator of our moods and emotions and the juncture where odors meet these two major components of our psyche.
One of the great wonders of the sense of smell is the unadulterated messages that it gives us. When a person witnesses a trauma of some kind, one might say to themselves, “I can’t believe my eyes”. When we have an argument with a loved one, the memory in which the words were heard and exchanged will not be exact, nor will either person recall identical details.
Scent is a purist…
Without filter, question or doubt, my daughter subconsciously knew who that necklace belonged to!
I smell the necklace, too, and like an unintended slide-show, memories of my mother begin to flash in my mind;
Her perfectly and impossibly straight teeth through her warm, easy smile…
The sound of her feet shuffling around outside my room at night after I was in bed and she was finishing her household tasks …
The weight of her hand on my back whenever I was ill…
The soft lilting cadence of her voice… her laughter…
The mad scientist inside of me chuckles. When I started making her perfume 20 years ago, I did it so as to delight her, but I also did it so that I may always recreate her likeness in this unfathomable liquid form after she was gone…
A feeling that brings me equal parts sadness and mirth…
My daughter has been wearing that necklace ever since…

By Paula