the sense of smell.

my brother and I talk about what an interesting genetic trait that we share in our sense of smell memory. I grew up thinking it was normal, and didn’t realize until much later in life that other people don’t usually say things like “this smells like Christmas circa 1998” 🙂 and, in light of the changing of the season and all the good smells that it brings, as well as the influx of Shauna Niequist books in my current reading list, I humbly blog….

there is one smell which arrives around Labor Day weekend in the Azusa area. despite our lack of significant weather changes, there is a sense of novelty in the air, a breath of freshness in the swirl of the leaves, even in the heat of the dog days of summer, instead of the crispness of fall that other places may experience. this is a feeling, not just something that one can smell. it’s a feeling of newness and change, things which I enjoy so immensely.

there is one smell that makes me feel like a child again. walking into the home in Santa Maria that has been my grandparents’ home as long as I can remember, the immediate waft of cool air from the door, following the familiar doorbell sound that is completely unnecessary, as our visits are never unannounced. the smell is faintly one of coffee grounds, of peppermint candy, of lavender soap, and the dust of the old jazz records that adorn the walls and shelves. it is a smell that will always humble me as one who has lived so few years on this planet, and seen so little, and keep me in awe of the wisdom and wonder that comes with living life on earth so fully.

there is one smell that reminds me of days spent wallowing in the unknown. a smell that sneaks into the open windows just as I hit the santa paula-ventura border line. I know I am nearing the water long before I can see it, because I can smell it. it is the smell of salt and sand and the bright shining sun, even clothed in clouds most days here. it is the smell of a familiar place, though one approached in the midst of the difficulty of many different seasons. the smell of crying alone and being angry with God. it is the smell of sacred space and solitude. it is one that cannot be transported or transplanted, though maybe replaced some day.

there is another smell that reminds me of childhood. it is the smell of the anticipation of christmas morning, having to wait at the top of the stairs until my mom and dad said it was time to come down towards the tree. it is the impatience that characterized our time sitting anxiously at the top of the stairs, both andrew and I peeking around the landing to try and spy any presents uncovered for our eyes. it is the smell of pine and vanilla candles and eggs for breakfast. the smell of the wreath on the door and the chocolate and oranges that always waited in the stockings hung over the fireplace.

there is one smell that has been familiar to me for much longer than most. the smell of innocence and naivety. such a smell relies so heavily on the sustenance of another that tears surely come at the absence of it. this smell brings warmth to my heart and joyous weight to my arms at its thought. the smell of comfort and acceptance and love, mixed with baby powder and animal crackers.

there is one smell that brings joy and excitement whenever I smell it. the combination of the heat on the concrete and the dew of the rain, that mixes in a way that awakens the senses and excites the nerves. it is a rare smell, one that takes a perfect combination of elements, and one that always comes as a surprise. but it is one that springs me out of bed and to the window, hoping aloud for thunder and lightning and real weather. almost always truth it is.

there is a new smell. one that makes me feel instantly comforted. one that brings to mind laughter and the twisting of my stomach that accompanies his presence. it is already familiar, already relaxing, already a smell that places me at ease. it is the last thing I think of before I fall asleep, and the first that comes to mind when I wake up. it is the smell of wonder and conversation and time in prayer. the smell of pages turned and steps taken forward, and the smell of curiosity and  affection and admiration. however, it is still a new smell, one that will come to be known through time and tears and lessons learned. it will take on the smell of uncertainty at times, and confusion at others. but I know it as a smell that blesses me throughout.


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