I took a walk down to the boardwalk with some new friends in Santa Monica this weekend.
But I don’t think it was my lack of purse weighing me down that made me feel so free and light that afternoon. It was the combination of hotel room sleep (the bed was absolutely luxurious), good food that I didn’t have to cook, and the removal of my Mommy Hat.
When I am at home, I am always ON. Whether I am working or grocery shopping or paying bills or stressing about not being able to pay bills or driving kids to and from activities at school or cooking or exercising or feeling guilty about not exercising….there is always, ALWAYS something on my mind.
I can talk a hot shower or head out on a date with my husband or see a movie with a friend, but when I am home I am constantly wearing that hat.
I realized many years ago, however, that I have the strange ability to disconnect myself from home, work, and the stresses of life as soon as I get on a plane (or car or train) and get out of town. I wasn’t joking the other day when I said that “there is nothing more relaxing to me than a nice hotel room, a luxurious hot (and long!) shower, and waking up when my body tells me it’s time.”
Back to my leisurely walk with 4 of the other bloggers who shared my amazing weekend with me. We took our time walking towards the beach and the pier. Our walk was more about the experience than the destination (don’t you love that?). As we stood at a cross walk, a few of us noted a gorgeous tree straight ahead. One of my companions asked, “What kind of tree is that?”
Instinctively, I answered, “It’s a Eucalyptus tree,” and then promptly doubted myself. It may very well have been 25 years since I’ve seen a eucalyptus tree, and I haven’t thought much about them since I moved from the house I grew up in. There were eucalyptus trees at the end of our driveway in San Jose. They were just one of those things that were THERE. I didn’t pay them much mind. I was 11 when we left that house. And there I was staring at what looked like a eucalyptus tree.
Seeing that first eucalyptus tree (and the dozens more that we passed on our walk) instantly left me with a deep feeling of nostalgia, but it wasn’t until we had crossed the street that I smelled the tree.
The strong scent of eucalyptus sealed the deal. There was no longer any doubt in my mind. I breathed in the eucalyptus and was sent back in time, to my elementary school days in California, to hours spent riding bikes in the court, or playing with my Barbie pool on the driveway. I could picture the mail box standing right next to the tree, and recalled those days before internet and email when getting the mail each day was exciting.
I remembered my best friends and my next door neighbors and the sounds of the trains passing by frequently across the highway just beyond our court.
It all came back to me with a smell.
And then I wondered….what have my kids’ childhoods smelled like? What scent will trigger their memories 25 years from now and send them back to our humble townhome? Will it be the smell of rain or the scent of the dryer sheets that I use? Will their memories light up when they notice the smell of donuts cooking, or maybe their favorite meal of mine?
I hope they’ll tell me someday.
What scents trigger memories for you?
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