The Scent of the Past

10 06 2010

Science tells us that smell is the biggest memory trigger. Something to do with the olfactory bulb being close to the brain’s memory center or something. Mr. Wizard I am not, so a more in-depth explanation of the mechanics will need to be found elsewhere.

But I had just such a memory trigger this morning on the way to work. I had swung through a drive through for breakfast (Dunkin’ Donut has a perfect breakfast dollar menu–I got an egg white, cheese, and sausage wrap and a cup of coffee–perfectly healthy and cheap for someone like me who’d rather have an extra ten minutes sleep versus actually getting up and preparing any sort of meal.)

It was a great morning, so I had the roof open. At the next stop light, I cracked open my coffee and instantly I had this memory of my late grandmother’s house. Now, if I’d been asked before that to describe how her house smelled, I couldn’t have even begun to. And it took most of the traffic light cycle to pick apart the smells that brought the memory to me.

There was the coffee, of course.  During my childhood summers, I often stayed at my grandmother’s during the day while Dad was at work. We would get to her house, and there was always a fresh pot of coffee brewed.

The faint odor of cigarette smoke was coming from a car a few spots ahead of me. I don’t recall what my grandmother smoked before she quit, but the smell of her brand was slightly different from “typical” cigarette smoke.

And to my left and a few cars back was a truck loaded with new lumber. My grandmother’s husband had taken up woodworking in his retirement and was always working on pieces of furniture in the woodshop below their garage.

So now I can say that her house smelled like fresh coffee, cut wood, with a faint trace of cigarette smoke. Doesn’t sound all that appealing, does it? But until the light turned green, I felt like I was ten years old again.

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9 responses

10 06 2010
noe noe girl

Sweet memories are great!
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10 06 2010
Jason

I know. I’ve had moments like these, too. The smell of pink jasmine always pulls me back to my first few weeks living in Southern California.

11 06 2010
MJ

Honeysuckle is a big one for me. My grandmother had a huge honeysuckle vine in her backyard when we were kids.

12 06 2010
trailerparkbarbie

Nice memory, V V!

12 06 2010
The Vinyl Villager

OK I clicked to answer you all’s comments and there was an ad here for Summer’s Eve…now Im laughing too hard to answer.

14 06 2010
The Girl from the Ghetto

Wait, you are getting those phantom adds, too? I see them around my blog posts sometimes and have been going nuts wondering WTF? Although, your adds at least sound more funny.

I’m happy you have a happier memory associated with cigarette smoke, because whenever I smell it I still get traumatized from my 2 packs a day momma!

15 06 2010
The Vinyl Villager

Its funny, I dont consciously remember her house smelling of cigarettes at all.

Yes, what is up with the ads? I wanna at least be getting paid for em.

14 06 2010
Tammy

I have all kinds of scent filled memories and one of them involves my grandparents house filled with the smell of cigarettes, coffee, waffles and bacon. Ahhh, the memories.

15 06 2010
The Vinyl Villager

did EVERYONE our grandparents age smoke?

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