Our Strongest Sense

When was the last time your sense of smell sent you directly pining for your childhood? For me, this used to happen daily. Until recently, I hadn’t experienced that rush of déjà vu in a long time.

When I first moved to Florida at the age of 15, I had made the conscious choice to relocate. I threw my big girl pants on after my freshmen year of high school and decided to try out Florida. Regardless, the monumental change of scenery took its toll on me. I clung to reading to escape what could possibly have been a mistake, and my only sense of comfort? Yankee candle’s “Autumn Wreath” and “Macintosh Apple”. I kept the candles on the windowsill next to my bed, close enough to smell them as I tried to fall asleep. The fragrances reminded me of apple-picking and climbing trees as they lost their leaves. However, enough time passed and I grew comfortable to Florida’s salty air.

I am perhaps one of the most nostalgic people I know. I allow silly smells, the feeling of a light breeze, the warmth of the sun, and a casual phone call pull me into sentimentality. This very morning, I awoke to a phone call from my closest childhood friend. She sounded depressed, so contrary to her happy demeanor. As I listened to her refer to work as “monotonous” and employ other negatively-tinged words to refer to her current activities, I reverted back to our childhood together. Never before have I heard her voice so monotone, so defeated. I wanted to be there, in New Hampshire, dragging her out into the field where we used to play “make believe” and running around with her family’s horses. She was the freest spirit I’d ever known. Is this what adulthood does to free spirits? Does it strip them of their purity and their joy?

To distract her from her unhappy rantings, I prodded her about gardening and The Food Network. Slowly but surely, her tone broke free from its jail cell and emphasized a small, but significant, presence of the little girl I once knew. I was overjoyed to hear my best friend again, overtaking the defeated adult her identity was assuming.

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