I took a walk down to the boardwalk with some new friends in Santa Monica this weekend.
My purse had recently been flooded by an unexpectedly-open bottle of Diet Coke, and so I was traveling lighter than usual. My camera was around my neck and my phone was in my pocket. That’s it.
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?
© 2012, Food Fun Family. All rights reserved.
It’s just so funny because when my son and I were there just 2 weeks before that, you couldn’t smell it! I’m so glad you were able to enjoy those smells of childhood. I had such a good time with you guys on Saturday! I’m still dreaming of the gelato.
Sandra Topper says
Apples and garlic together at the same time. It’s an odd combination, I know! It sends me back to my great uncle’s farm whom I lived with between the age of 4-6. Not only was he a family practice physician, but a surgeon and and obstetrician and he owned a very large race horse farm. He was constantly on the go – between the delivery room and the barn. He was a very funny, warm and compassionate man. Twice a week I would sit with him at the kitchen table and with exact precision he’d core 2 dozen apples in a matter of minutes. Once I had finished stuffing a clove of garlic into each, we would head out to the barn and give one to each of the horses. I have many fond memories of the farm and many of them are linked to smell. In fact I have been following my nose all of my life.
Katja of Skimbaco says
I loved this post!!! My childhood smell is the ocean, the salty fresh water of Baltic Sea, we spent all summers on a boat sailing around the archipelago. While it’s winter time, and I can’t smell it now even on the coast, but ever since we moved to Sweden, it’s been nostalgia after nostalgia with products I haven’t seen in years, my childhood singing idol still singing on TV, now just 20 years older… I saw news in Finnish on TV too, and it was so weird to be able to be home but watch the news in my own language.
Thanks for sharing this post, and the scent of eucalyptus.
Candice @ Fashionably Organized says
What a beautiful post. Childhood smells are so powerful. About 2 years ago I went over to my grandmother’s best friend’s house, and began to cry when I went in the house. The smell of her cooking smelled exactly like my grandmother’s house did when I was a kid. At that time my grandmother had been deceased for 16 years, yet I could smell that cooking just like I was a kid walking into her house. Smell is a very powerful sense.
This is a lovely post, Lolli. The smell of my childhood would must definitely be chlorine. We practically lived at the neighborhood pool that was literally in our backyard.
Becca Bernstein says
This post is written like a poem and while the moment jogged memories in you. It also jogged them in me. I remember tangerines in our yard from the tree, the beach, one mile away, and the sound of the diesel in my Mom’s car.
Dawn Sandomeno says
The smell of sun tan lotion and chlorine will always remind me of the pool we had in our backyard growing up. Summers were always the BEST! My Dad took such great care of the pool and would play with us for hours. He’d put tiki torches at night and we would BBQ. I miss him.
Annie @ Mama Dweeb says
This was a very beautiful post Lolli! Wow, how enchanting. I could feel the sun and smell the tree as you took me for a walk in this post. (I really wish I was there with you!)
And those photos are gorgeous too!
What scent triggers my memories? Garlic frying in a pan reminds me of my grandpa. Vinegar and oil on the salad too! He was part italian and cooked like it!