It is said that when you lose one sense, another sense is heightened. I have not technically lost any sense, but find myself consistently gravitating away from and wishing one away and that is touch. To put it firmly, I don’t like being touched unless I am really drunk, which I suppose is usual on the side of Friday and Saturday, not that I want it to be this way.
I had the very negative experience recently of a guy putting his arm around my shoulders and feigning closeness when I undoubtedly had only gone on one date with him and found myself wrenching away from him because this was too much for me. You might think, “this girl should definitely get some help,” and the appropriate response from me is, “yes, I know I should,” but this blog is not about touch, it is about smell.
One of my favorite things
I hope this classic tune is now moving betwixt your ears and onto your tongue, because the sense of smell tops my list of favorite things.
I often try to classify smells by how “favorite” they are, but realized the other day as I was on the bus inhaling the clippings of dying flowers and mowed lawns on the crisp fall air that there is no way to classify smells as such. Each time one hits and it creates a memory or jingles one out it becomes the best most meaningful scent at the time. On this particular day I mourned the passing of summer while greeting the entrance of fall, while realizing this scent is particular to this in-between season that lasts anywhere between two and four weeks. I consistently forget to savor the moment of the scent and think about how I will miss it when it goes, because I am always worrying on the way things fade without me.
Some smells weigh more than others. There is a morning crispness during the spring that is the awakening of millions of flowers entreating the world to look at an abundance of new life that is my nemesis. This is for me the most painful of smells because it remembers the darkness of the spring of my 17th year alive. When I inhale this kind of day I immediately become that seventeen year old, dressed in grays and blacks, with big unkempt hair awaiting some kind of ending. I cannot endure these days and wish for the very beginning of spring to pass quickly, luckily here in Seattle it usually does.
On the other end, there is the smell of firewood specifically burning in fireplaces or wood stoves. I think it is that firewood on the winter air has a deeper, muskier smell, which I admit I could be wrong about. This is the one smell that makes my pulse rush and my breath heavy and I have never been sure why. This is the one and only smell that immediately turns my mind from pure to staggeringly sinful. Okay, pure would be an outright lie, my mind is far from it, but… you get my gist.
The one thing that I will never understand about my sense of smell is something I’ve told many people and it is that I can smell sickness on others [I should note that this is usually men]. No, I cannot sniff out cancer, but when someone is sick there is an odor that emanates from his/her body that is disturbing for me and makes me a little sick. I should also say this is usually people with an opposing body chemistry. For people that I tend to mesh with and generally like the natural smell of, the smell does not seem to present itself. This has done nothing less than confuse me for many years of my life.
I would gladly give up a little of this sense for want of the one I am afraid of, turn away from, think of as liquid fire as my skin smarts from simple hugs, but… this is what I live with. I will sniff glue to remember my teddy bears if that’s what I have to do.