Friday, March 19, 2010

The Smell of Memory

I've heard it said that smell is the strongest sense for recalling memories. The other day I dug deep into a bag of extra odds and ends that I brought with me from America and pulled out a bottle of lotion that I hadn't used for months. The first thing I noticed as I opened it and lathered it on my hands and then my face was how strong the smell was. Being in Africa, there aren't many scented things - atleast as sweetly scented as what Americans are used to. It's like our smell has been desensitized; what used to be a rather weak smelling lotion was now overwhelming to me.
And with the overwhelming smell came a flood of memories (I'd used the same lotion for a few years)... and not just pictures of events, but the emotions and the friendships engrained in those moments of time: the late nights spent finishing that physics homework assignment, the oh-so-good cold pizza in the greasy Rascal House Pizza box on the counter in our apartment leftover from a roommate's special event, the feeling of being clean and well shaven after a hot shower, my dimly lit room with all its decorations in just their right places hanging on the walls while I lay on my bed chatting to a friend on the phone, the anticipation of a date with a special someone, the heartbreak, the excitement of dressing up in a tuxedo for a choir concert, or a suit for a night at the orchestra... 

I never knew a bottle of lotion knew me so well.