It is a good feeling to come home after a day at work with three key goals in mind: work out, make dinner, and grade essays. It’s an even better feeling when you accomplish not one or even two of these goals, but in fact you accomplish all three.
I read a really interesting article in The New Yorker this weekend entitled The Dime Store Floor by David Owen. It’s all about how smells can trigger memories.
The author and his sister embark on a childhood “smell tour” where they visit their old childhood haunts and see whether or not they still smell the same. I loved this article because I’m always trying to impress upon my students how important sensory detail is in writing, and this essay explores that concept in a very literal way.
This essay also made me think about smells from my own childhood and the memories they trigger. I think Old Spice must be the staple scent of all American fathers because it is a scent I associate strongly with my dad. Apparently my dad’s choice of deodorant resonated with not just the humans in the house, but also the animals. This became clear when he accidentally left the lid off of his Old Spice only to have our tiny tiger cat, Kit-Kat, knock it over and rub against it until she was slick with the scent.
Some of my other “smells” are also more common. For example, the smell of cinnamon, fresh cut grass, and lilacs. However, I also associate strong memories to the smell of Listerine. My grandfather always uses the mouthwash as part of his nightly routine. I also attribute the smell of onions to my grandmother and any sort of holiday. It’s a fun exercise to think about what smells trigger what memories.