Thursday, July 28, 2011

Making memories

I love reminiscing. When my childhood best friend came up this past weekend to visit, we spent hours laughing about funny things that happened when we were kids. Songs for us are a big thing, great for jogging memories. Carpooling to school, sometimes her mom drove and we listened to Mary Chapin Carpenter; sometimes mine drove and we listened to Billy Joel's River of Dreams album. Lottie always thought my mom was so hip for listening to popular music. I'd never have admitted it then, but she was - and continues to be.

I digress, however. I'm feeling nostalgic these days. I went for a run this morning and my nostrils were assaulted by the smell of diesel exhaust. It's not something I particularly enjoy, but today I experienced a memory so strongly that it almost seemed physical. When I lived in France, I took the bus everywhere. I'd get on early in the morning to go teach, I'd get on in the middle of the day to head into town. That bus smelled EXACTLY like the diesel exhaust this morning. Today I'll be missing France and my host family, and I'll be grateful that I live in an area of New York that somewhat resembles that area of France.

I do wonder - what will my scent memory of my current village be? The scent I most strongly associate with DC is the air before a summer rain storm, when it sort of smells like ozone and the promise of puddles and worms on the sidewalk. France, clearly, is diesel exhaust - but also l'odeur des champs, the smell of the fields when the farmers would spread manure. And now, I'm not sure but I think it might be the scent of thyme mixed with grass when the lawn gets cut. Lawns all around our area are a combination of thymus vulgaris (common creeping thyme) and a variety of fescue grasses.

We'll see. One day we'll move away and I'll suddenly catch a whiff of thyme and grass, and will be magically transported back to our little house in the village. For now, I'll enjoy the actual aroma!

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