I react strongly to the sense of smell, as you might remember reading in this post. There are others than just the smell of my mother's perfume and my father's choice of chewing gum. J.'s aftershave, for one. Every time he would shave, I would notice and run over to him, nuzzling my nose against his jaw and neck just to inhale that beautiful smell. And when I went to visit him a few weeks ago, I went to use the guest bathroom - the one that became mine when we decided to call off our engagement and I moved to the guest room - and just the smell of the plastic shower curtain brought back a million memories of how I felt in those first few weeks after the break up.
But there have been other men in my life - others I've loved. And there are smells that remind me of them, too. One, in particular, I connected more with scent than any other sense. I could never adequately put into words exactly what he smelled like, but it was good. More than anything, I loved hugging him close, my cheek pressed to his and my mouth by his ear, and I could breathe deep and know that I was just breathing him. And when I would go spend time with him at his place, I would walk through that door and already I could smell that scent.
I'm not sure I can accurately claim that we ever had an official "relationship," but in our unofficial one, we went through two "break-ups." During the first one, we maintained contact, and I told him once how much I missed being able to inhale that scent as a part of missing him. Sure, I missed holding him, I missed talking to him and sharing my thoughts, and I missed the way he used to look at me and make me feel like in that moment, maybe I was what mattered most in the world. But more than anything, I missed that smell. And when we gave up on the break-up that was clearly not working, that smell was what I most loved having back.
The other day, I got out of the shower and started putting lotion on my legs. This wasn't new lotion - I've used it for months at least, if not years. But suddenly, it hit me. My lotion smelled exactly like this guy from my past - my fragrance-free lotion. And I cried. And cried. And cried. Because for all that I really missed that smell, having it rush back at me like that was more than I could handle.
My fragrance free lotion is not living up to its name.
And while we're on the subject, here's a very modern-ish poem I wrote during that period of my life:
Deeper remembrance of misbegot your-
hold, grasp, clutching with fists
Salvage my hurting by us disabuse
walling unholy protection of me.
Showing off sticky hands - ether or blood -
either ether either or
Streaking of chemicals webbing applied:
smudge, stick, spirits attend.
Snap Snap, rhythm intrigued
meter becomes the demandingest comm
but meter is second to meet her (or him)
thoughts - focus - love-in absorb
The vast unfolding why of not
knotted up in nodding sleep
Ravel - un - the sleep of dreams
Life a vacant space of waking.
And who? the you in us connected
me, I, alone on empty.
Reassurance failing falls and
Dover's peaks forgetting.
That one has much more meaning than the last one.