Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Smell and memory

I know it was baby lotion, but for some reason I was expecting vanilla, so it was vanilla I had a reaction to. It was a soft, sweet smell, nonetheless. I am 18, almost 19 in a few days, and I am standing by myself in my best friend's bedroom. I'm holding the itchy wool v-neck sweater that I lent her a few months back, clutching it in my left hand as I stand at her bookshelf and gently finger the photos and trinkets there with my right hand. The house is silent. I smell her vanilla perfume. I inhale deeply; it is a smell I will remember for the rest of my life, with which I will associate all sweet, faintly perfumed smells. I will be struck by the memory it conjures at inconvenient times in inappropriate locations. I will put it on myself to savor the familiarity, yet fight back tears when smelling it on others. This heady, wholesome, youthful smell will always stay heady, wholesome, and youthful in my mind, just as my dear friend will always stay 17.

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