it's been warm around my little town lately. warm enough that on my ride home yesterday, i rolled down my windows. immediately, it hit me. a gentle breeze, carrying with it the smell of summer. someone was grilling out, or burning leaves, and the smoky, hazy atmosphere attached to my radio waves, and i rode both all the way home.
and as i drove, the sun started to set and my steering wheel warmed, and i went back. to the five summers i spent lifeguarding at the community pool. shopping for sundresses. my first kiss under the august moon. cheap fireworks on the pavement on july 4th, with names like "sprinkling rain" and "lotus flower." the simple scent of fire, and the memories came flooding back. and like the bradford pears shedding their gorgeous blooms on the sidewalks, so my heart shook itself back into feeling.
my mama keeps a little porcelain avon jar on her bathroom sink. just a little screw-top mini container, filled with a pale pink cream that she dabs on her wrists every now and then. it's the scent my grandma used to wear, and when mama found it again in a cosmetics catalog, she started buying it for herself, and it has maintained its place of honor in a pretty yellow vase ever since.
because scents are tied with memories, and good or bad, they stay ingrained in our psyche until, one thursday afternoon at five o'clock, they hit us straight in the heart and open the dam of emotion. it's the reason wives dab perfume on their husband's pillow when they go away for the weekend. why old ladies still cling to moth-holed, dusty sports coats. how babies know their mama in a sea of women.
i used to think that if i had to lose one sense, smell wouldn't be the worst to have taken away. but yesterday, with the sunlight twirling through my hair and the smell of hickory wood filling my little honda, my mind was changed.