My scent memory sucks.

Last Friday, I bought some Aveeno Stress relief lotion before going to work. The bottle claims it’s scented with lavender, chamomile, and ylang-ylang oils. It smells slightly medicinal and slightly floral. I rubbed it into my hands several times over the course of the morning, and I kept getting wiffs of it during my work as I flipped papers or reached for the phone, and it tugged at my gut for some reason. I was curious, but not quite sure why.

About an hour into a training session, I allowed my mind to wander a bit. I rested my chin on my hand and breathed in the scent. After a particularly deep inhale, I was filled with this overwhelming scent of nostalgia – like I was aching for some sense of warmth and comfort of a better time. Or maybe it was a a yearning for the sadness of a time before. My mom had bought the same lotion years earlier and I remember stealing pumps from the bottle she kept hidden in the bathroom cabinet.

It occurred to me that I wasn’t aching for the comfortable happiness of an earlier time, but it was right on the edge of my consciousness. I couldn’t describe the moment I was trying to recall – not even the general period. When had I first used this lotion? High school? Early college? The smell reminded me of tears – curling beneath a blanket, my arms wrapped in a thick sweater, my bare toes cold, and me both adoring and hating my grief. Maybe I was in a drugged haze – a thick cloud of painkillers after getting my wisdom teeth removed – a gauzy cloud of painkillers, craving coffee and the buttery side of toast but lacking the motivation to get it.

I’m still unable to place the memory. The scent is almost strangulating at this point, but I don’t know where to place it. It’s really bothering me. I even asked my mom when she first bought the lotion.

“I don’t know. Years ago?” she replied, not really understanding what I was asking.

After considering my own bathroom, I realize this is a fairly ridiculous thing to ask a woman. I’m currently in possession of about 20-30 different hair, skin, and makeup products, none of which I’ll remember in five years. Sure, the L’oreal shampoo I bought last week smells amazing and the Mary Kay mascara works pretty well, but I’m probably not going to be able to recall when I first bought either of the products.

Anyway, I’m not really sure of the point of the post, other than to invite speculation. I keep the bottle of lotion at my desk, so I’m hoping that one of these days I’ll remember why the scent makes my heart feel like it’s being tugged at. Isn’t that a strange sensation? Feeling your heart being pulled? If I focus enough, I can induce that sense of melancholia. It’s the all energy in my chest being thrown in a single direction and knocking into something. It’s not exactly a bad feeling, it’s just something I can’t place my finger on.

Till I figure it out, I’ll keep stressing out over my anti-stress lotion.

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4 thoughts on “My scent memory sucks.

  1. It’s not unusual for your mind to drive itself crazy trying to think of something…especially if it’s important to you. I find that as soon as you quit thinking about it though…the answer magically appears. 🙂

  2. I enjoy the phrasing of ‘stealing pumps from the bottle..’. Maybe it’s a preemptive nostalgia. A handsome and dapper man will see the lotion on your desk and ask to steal a pump. Your stomach will wrench and your lip will burn white with the pressure from your teeth as you decide that it’s okay to share. He doesn’t need to steal, because you will offer it to him freely.

  3. How far back do pumps go? Once you remember where that first whiff came from, you will never forget. Jergen’s original scent lotion can take me back decades to my childhood in my Grammy’s bathroom. I can still see the way she lovingly lathered her fingers and hands and massaged the sweet smell of cherry into her soft hands. She would pat me lightly on the nose and share some with me. Perhaps that small pat on the nose was enough to keep the smell and memory of her lingering on in my memory forever.
    May that scent drive you crazy just long enough to remember the origin, and only then will it bring a smile to your face.

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