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Saturday, February 12, 2011

The Smell Of Love

By Olfactoria

When thinking about Home Scents to write about for my Saturday post here on PST, I took off on a tangent that didn’t let go of me again. I was stuck on that thought and by association, so are you now. So here we go, talking about home scents in another sense of the word. Please bear with me!

Home, the one of our childhood and the one we built for ourselves, is associated with certain scents. The smell of a loved one, the scent of a room, it brings us back into our past or reminds us of our present in a complete and total way that sights and sounds cannot.

In therapy I use a technique called Guided Affective Imagery, where day dreams are harnessed as a guide to the soul, where we use the soul’s language, how the soul speaks in images rather than words. Those images are powerful, significant and healing. Just like in dreams we have at night, daydreaming gives us a look into our inner workings and also a way out of problematic situations.

I often think how the sense of smell would be even more helpful, how total the recollection of situations and emotions would be. It would be way too traumatic of course, and absolutely non-advisable, there is no way to guide and temper that fifth sense of ours, but it is utterly and terribly effective. Our entire being can be influenced, transported, transformed even, by smell.

So what are the smells that make me think of home?

First and foremost, nothing more than the smell of my children means home to me. The scent of their hair (or lack thereof in the case of my younger one), that is so warm and milky and sweet. The smell of their sticky little fingers, varying slightly according to today’s diet. The smell of their breath at night, puffing softly, when I lean in to check on them, smelling like fresh bread and violets.

Home also means the slight smell of paint we can’t seem to get rid off, since re-painting the doors last year. The smell of laundry drying in our bedroom, there is always laundry around, no matter how often I wash and fold and iron and wash and fold…you get the picture.

Home also means the smell of cigarette smoke in the hallway of our building, from an incorrigible smoking neighbor that I hate on the one hand but that also takes me back to my Grandparents’ home in an instant. My Grandfather smoked all his life, then died of lung cancer. Love and smoke can be intertwined after all.

Home also means the smell of the deodorant my husband uses since he was sixteen years old, that he insists on being the one and only, the one we have to bring home in large – no doubt custom duty declarable – quantities from trips to the US. He loves that scent and inevitably so do I, it smells like the home I have made for myself after all.

Along with the world of perfume the entire world of smell opened up for me. I am so much more aware of what I smell and how it registers with me. And the best part is that the more I rely on my sense of smell, the more I actively use it, the less judgement seems to come into play. Earlier there was an immediate good-bad, love-hate reaction to smells. Smell, judge, forget, was the way I related to what my nose tried to tell me.

Now the reaction is: Smell, investigate, remember.

How about you? What smells spell Home for you?




Blogger tara said...

B, what a wonderful post, I adored it. The smell of home is indeed the smell of love. So interesting to read about one of your therapy techniques and of course, your own personal olfactory reminders of home. I shall have to give some thought to mine!

5:38 AM EST  
Blogger rosarita said...

What an enjoyable post! I've really been enjoying your Saturday contributions. Since the children have left the nest, my home smells have changed, and currently include lots of food smells as my husband has taken an interest in cooking. Lots of garlic & curry, underscored by coffee. :)

7:48 AM EST  
Blogger deeHowe said...

There is so much to love here, where do I start?

Describing your evolution towards scent: "Smell, investigate, remember" is lovely in and of itself, since so much in our lives is transient, while scent memories remain so long.

I love that you and your husband bring home stashes of American deodorant! I would love to know what this particular deodorant is... a smell-peek into your lives?

The smells of home are so powerful: As I discovered with Epic woman. I didn't even realize that my aunt, with whom I associate the meaning "home," had a smell until wearing Epic. But that fragrance smelled of Her, and now when I think of the smell of home, my first thought is Epic. Ha! Home life is epic, is it not?

Thank you for sharing your lovely, and relatable, thoughts on home!

11:35 AM EST  
OpenID said...

Tara, thank you! :)

2:13 PM EST  
OpenID said...

Thank you, Rosarita! I can imagine that such a big change like your children leaving home, has also changed the smells of home. How lovely that your husband is filling it with new ones!

2:15 PM EST  
OpenID said...

scent is so unique because it circumvents so many of our defenses and hits us directly where we react emotionally. That makes those memories so powerful.
About the deodorant, I'll let you know in an email or I'll get into trouble. ;)

2:26 PM EST  
Blogger Angela Cox said...

That odd smell you know lurks at the back of the refrigerator. The violets in my garden , the roses in June . The No 5 pure perfume my daughter wears for special occasions . Lemons on Pancake Day and spices for Easter baking. My favourite is the smell of very cold , icy weather and opening the door to smell everything at home even if it's the sink of dishes that didn't get done .

4:24 PM EST  
OpenID said...

Angela, your last sentence brings back memories of my mother. She always says how lovely it is to come home when it is cold outside.

4:33 PM EST  
Anonymous Victoria said...

Lovely post, in all respects! I have to say that I do not really have any strong associations with a scent of home, because as a child, we moved a lot and now, my home smells like whatever work I am doing and bringing from the office. Or whatever mood I am to write about. However, the smell of baking bread would be the closest equivalent of the smell of love for me.

5:13 PM EST  
Anonymous Suzanne said...

I feel rather wistful after reading your wonderful post. There is one smell that always reminds me of my childhood home, and it's the scent of fresh peas in summer being shelled into a big bowl while sitting next to my mom on the front porch steps. It was just a quiet, tender green smell that I still remember with fondness.

In the home I have now, it's the scent of coffee brewing that makes me feel loved and cozy.

9:14 PM EST  
Blogger RH said...

I've been lurking here for a while and decided to finally say something... your description of what home smells like is nothing close to the home I have in mind, but the warmth in your portrayal filled me with nostalgia.

I've moved around a lot, but when I think home I think of the place I lived in as a child- the smell of dust in the humid air mingled with wild roses and leaves as I walked home, the scent of the heavy wooden door that I opened, the bustle of the constant guests we had- and the smell of the kitchen... oh, that kitchen- it had a HUGE window and while my mother cooked she left it open, letting in a smell of all sorts of greeneries and nameless flowers as well as the laundry we hung, while I also breathed in the milky coffee, blinis, and black tea set on the table.

There is something in the memory of smell that just touches you in a way no other senses can- Photographs and videos make me laugh or smile, but a flashback of an olfactory memory immediately brings tears to my eyes... sighhhhh... thanks for this post- it's made me remember so many things... (and write a LONG comment which is something I hardly do...)

11:47 PM EST  
OpenID said...

V, baking bread is such a great smell to associate with love. Also the idea that your home smells of the work you bring with you - I'd love to do such work that smells (of something other than diapers!) ;)

2:46 AM EST  
OpenID said...

Suzanne, thank you for sharing that beautiful memory and for putting the idea of the scent of fresh peas in my head. I wish I could smell some right now!

2:50 AM EST  
OpenID said...

Dear RH,
thank you for commenting! Your recollection of your childhood kitchen is so vivd, I feel I am almost there with you! It sounds beautiful!

2:53 AM EST  
Blogger Vintage Lady said...

The smell of Love, the smell of Home. How true. I can remember my brother when we were very little he would tell my mother, Mom you smell Love. That was beautiful.

5:53 AM EST  
OpenID said...

Aww, Vintage Lady, your brothers words are indeed lovely.

6:59 AM EST  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This perfumer has taken the concept literally. . . E-w-w-w-w-w-w!

9:58 AM EST  

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