April 20th, 2007

if I were me

The Garden of Sense-Memory

Spring this year has taken me unawares--not that the green grass hasn't been a big tip-off. But the smells, my god, the smells. I walked down a flight of stairs in iuliamentis and helaaspindakaas's apartment building, and the scent was just like the apartment building my mom and I lived in after the divorce. I was four years old again, and I don't know if it's the smell of cheap construction or a kind of paint or the mineral tang of the water in that part of the state seeping into the concrete blocks, or all three, but yes, I was four.

And earlier this week I was three again; the wind hit the trees, grass, and moist dirt just right on the Diag, and I was tromping through the back acreage with my dog before the divorce, thinking I was alone with the world--when in fact, my mom was probably watching from the window or something. That's the scent of Michigan in the spring. Nothing at all like North Carolina in the spring.

And just a moment ago, I was petting Merlin the Cat, and now my hand smells like cat, which most days I would tell you doesn't smell like much--maybe the lingering odor of fish on their breaths or perhaps the sickly-sweetness of fresh litter, but no, this smells indefinably like cat, and I'm seven again, snuggling the innocent cat I dressed up in doll clothes on those first excruciatingly hot days in Durham.

I don't think I particularly like any of these memories--I don't hate them either--but it's interesting that they're here lately. Usually, things don't smell like I remember, or I don't have much of a memory associated with them. But. Here we are.