Monday, November 5, 2012

Smelly Memories

I love this country
It's dark outside, and the stars are still out as I stand over my battered kitchen sink peeling an orange for Little's lunch. As each curl of peel falls into the disposal, the scent of citrus greets me and, with it, memories. Memories of sitting carefully, knees together, a plate of wedding food in my lap--rice, curried vegetables, spicy meat, a midget banana, and one small orange with its thin peel holding the slices together into a glowing globe of celebration.

My mother used to say that wedding receptions in Indonesia were about her three least favourite things: smoke, trash, and really loud sound systems. If I force myself, I remember that too, but mostly when I look back, I remember the food and the scent of jasmine (this is called selective remembering, ha!). The physical act of peeling that orange transports me back to my awkward childhood self, trying to tuck too-long legs neatly beneath a folding chair.

The sense of smell does that for me often. The smell of clove cigarettes brings memories of the streets of Indonesia, crowded with street vendors, beggars, scrawny chickens, and overflowing public transportation. The wafting scent of fresh baked bread  takes me back to Jordan and sitting scrunched between my sisters in the back of a taxi, tearing off chunks of fresh baked bread as we drank in the sights. And the smooth aroma of percolating coffee always reminds me of waking up at my in-laws, knowing that the Man's father has a pot of decaf brewing on the stove for me (yes, on the stove--no cop out coffee pots for them).

I suppose what I'm saying is how grateful I am for the gift of my nose. Although on the whole I think noses are a little weird looking if you think about them too long, they help me to remember. And while sometimes that makes me homesick, most of the time, it just lets me enjoy being momentarily transported elsewhere.

And then Reveille plays, and I'm back in my kitchen, filling up a Thomas lunch box and getting ready to start another day. A door bangs open, and the sound of running feet greets me. Littles throws himself into my arms for his morning hug and says, "It's still dark outside, Mommy." That's right. And I've already made a PB&J and put a note that you can't read in your lunch box. Labour of love, dude, labour of love...


  1. beautiful! Hey we are about to move kinda near yall! I think Roo may have sent your husband an email. Would love to meet up sometime :)

    1. I know! And I am ridiculously excited. Meant to email you this week about it and it just hasn't happened. Regardless--I really hope it works out!

  2. This post touches my heart. Beautifully written.