Hi. This is me.
Apparently I make this face quite often. Sorry.
I’m currently 29-going-on whatever age most bartenders think I am. I am well-versed in serial monogamy, yet I’m really, truly single for the first time in… a very long time (15 years!). I don’t really know what that means yet. So far it’s mostly been going home to two cats at the end of the day, and deciding whether to watch a movie, play a video game, or read a book. All while drinking a bottle of wine.
From the outside looking in, I’m sure it looks like a charmed life. But it’s been quite an adjustment. After spending eight years thinking of yourself as part of a unit, a partnership (a team, even), it’s pretty rough to just be alone. With one good cat and one evil cat.
I’ve learned a lot about myself in this past year. Spiritually, mentally, emotionally, etc. I’ve also learned a lot of semi-useful skills, such as basic plumbing, and how to mount crap on walls. I even figured out how to replace my own brake lights. Car things! I’ve never had to learn car things.
I try to internalize whatever progress I’ve made. Yet I often feel like I’m only treading water.
Friends help. Friends help so much. I’m fortunate to have a strong social circle, despite my hermitic tendencies. I’m so proud of and grateful for the people I love. I must be doing something right if they’re sticking around. (Idiots. <3)
Earlier today, a friend brought up the idea that smells are transportive. He found a shirt in some old luggage that smelled of a past trip to Hong Kong.
It made me think of all the evocative smells I’ve retained in my tiny lifetime. Some are mere memories of people and places I’ll never revisit. But I love those moments when a fleeting smell transports me elsewhere.
Sometimes I struggle to recall my grandmother’s voice, and I vaguely remember how she used to smell. Fortunately, she used to grow jasmine in her garden, so jasmine flowers always remind me of her. I have that, at least. A few times, while napping at her old house, I’ve awoken to the smell of jasmine. It’s both creepy and comforting.
And who doesn’t love bacon? The taste, the texture, the smell. My grandparents used to cook us breakfast every single morning, and it was always bacon, eggs, rice and hot chocolate. Whenever I cook bacon now, I think about those early mornings with my brother, catching as many cartoons as we could before we were dragged off to school.
Chocolate chip cookies also have a special place in my heart. My dad and grandparents baked them for us all the time, until I figured out how the oven worked. Nothing fancy, just premade Pillsbury chocolate chip cookie dough. But they smelled like butter and we kids used to fight over the ones that looked perfectly underbaked.
All these comforting smells are rooted in my childhood, growing up with my cousins at my grandparents’ house. I don’t remember the scents of grade school cafeteria food, or the stench of dorm life. I can’t think of anything in my adult life that has such a strong hold on me. Maybe coffee? Sometimes it makes me think of those long ago mornings when my ex used to make me a cup to start each day.
So, do only pleasant scents withstand the passage of time? Do only nice smells elicit such visceral memories?
I often find myself revisiting some of these aromas in my own apartment. I buy jasmine- or plumeria-scented candles for my grandma. I keep bacon in my fridge even though if I’m honest, adult-me prefers sausage. And don’t be surprised if I have cookie dough in the freezer. These are just really easy ways to feel connected to a part of me that sometimes feels long-gone.
Anyway, I’m glad my friend sparked a nice trip down Memory Lane, and even inspired a bit of baking this evening.
I’m clearly rusty at this writing business. I always tell myself I need to keep this up, for practice and for my own sanity. You’ll be the first to know if it works.