Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Scent and Memory

Walking through my local high end grocery store last night I was struck by a wave of nostalgia.

I was rounding the cheese section and making way through the peanut and other nut butters, killing time until a class started, when suddenly I caught a scent.  A scent I had not smelled in some time.  A scent of someone I have not seen in a long while.

The smell ripped me back - in fact, I was looking around, trying to find out if someone was wearing that perfume.  I must have looked like a fool, slowly trolling the peanut butters, smelling away.  The scent was there though.  Definitive.  Unique.


Scent is a funny thing.  It has the ability to take us back in an instant to a person or place.  It can be something which we cannot fully verbalize - "It smells like" we might say, but we can never really describe the smell until we smell it again. Then suddenly that place, that person come vividly alive in our mind, the association is so strong.

I have had it happen returning to a place I had not been to in 30 years thousands of miles removed.  I have had it happen with the scent that my Granny always had in her bathroom, in the Old Spice my father wore growing up, in the smell of my best friend's house.

All of those memories come flooding back in an instant:  the places, the various times spent together. All there, standing in front of the peanut butter.

I made the circle again and sure enough, I found it there again.  It was not tied to a person but rather to something in that aisle. I kept looking.  Some kind of chemical free laundry soap, the stuff that was used on the laundry.

It all made a certain sense, something beyond time and space that was not fully controllable and yet, standing in wedged between cleaning supplies and nut butters, made all the sense in the world.


  1. Oh ya I have had those experiences too.

    1. Music does that for me too, Preppy. I can hear a song and suddenly I am back in a moment when I heard that song playing: what I was doing, who I was with, everything just as it was.


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