Friday, January 4, 2013

Smells Like Home

As I’m sitting here typing this, my husband is baking chocolate chip cookies (yes, at 11:30 p.m.  That’s how I keep up this body!).  The smell has taken over the whole house.  I was feeling a little stressed about getting the house back in order after the Christmess Eruption, plus catching up on everything from being away, when the comforting smell of fresh baked cookies came wafting through the air and suddenly, I was calm, relaxed… under a spell of some sort.  

            As I have said before, I have an extraordinarily keen sense of smell.  I’ve always heard that smell is the sense that is most connected to your memory, and I know that is true in my experience.  This past week, I was so blessed to be able to go “home” to Kentucky.  We were only there for two and a half days – we left early the day after Christmas so we knew we would need to save a few vacation days at home for Micah to play with his Christmas gifts, and for Jay and me to recuperate a little from a busy season – but I was able to visit a lot of friends and family in that few days.  I don’t know if I was on sensory overload, or just emotional because of the season, but several things brought tears to my eyes… mostly the smells.

            I visited my Grandma Burns.  She brought me into the kitchen to show me that she had a plate of Christmas candy for me…. peanut butter and chocolate fudge, this amazing concoction called Peanuttier, and the crème de le crème, Peanut Butter Balls (or Buckeyes as they’re called in Oklahoma – no clue why).  As soon as she pulled the aluminum foil from the plate and that sweet candy smell swirled around me, I was transported back many years.  Suddenly I was a nine year old, following Grandma around in the kitchen, hoping she might pass me a peanut butter ball before anyone else got one (she always did).  Even as she explained to me in the kitchen how easy it would be to make the candy for myself, I knew that I would never try.  It was her smell. 

            Later, at our family Christmas party, even though it was held at a rented hall, the smells…. I’m not sure if it was the food cooking or the people cooking it… but the smells brought me back to Grannie Annie and Pa’s house (where we used to have Christmas before our family grew so big).  If you closed your eyes, it felt the same.

            And when I hugged my mom goodbye, the smell of her, some mix of her perfume and hairspray, it just absolutely overwhelmed me, and I had a little breakdown right in front of everyone.

            Something about smells.  It’s ineffable.  It brings you back.

            I understand now why my sweet cousin, Casi, hugged me when she saw me and said, “you smell like Jamie.”  Why every year, despite the fact that I have an array of wonderful, pretty expensive perfumes, Jay buys me a cheapo bottle of Navy from Walmart and asks me to wear it just once.  It’s what I wore when we were just kids… young and crazy in love.  That smell brings him back to those days.  Why Micah will hug me tight after I’ve been gone for a while, bury his nose in my neck and say, “I missed your skin, Mom.” 
           What about you?  What smells bring you back home? 

            You think on that.  I have a belly full of warm cookies and am going to go indulge in one of my very favorite smells – my own pillow!



  1. Smells....they do it every time don't they?

    Just a few weeks ago working in the distribution center I smelled a very distinct scent that took me back to a very distinct period in time. (kind of like your Navy perfume) It was because of that smell and a conversation that ensued later about it that I was able to come to realize some changes and voice some thoughts that have been a long time (almost 4 years) coming. It was an incredible healing experience.

  2. Thank you for sharing that, Maria!