Sometimes I smell memories.
Walking into my garden, I’ll smell my grandmother’s living room: stale, senile and religious. Sometimes, lying in bed, I’ll smell the hospital: plastic banana tubes, contrived lunch scents and that goddamn Betadine. Sometimes I’ll smell my youth: his cologne -the one that still makes me catch my breath-, morning cigarette smoke and the sweetness of blood.
And then sometimes, smells make sense: the first sigh of autumn, the first whistle of winter, the first breath of spring, the first giggle of summer… the way lilies remind me of my aunt, and coconuts remind me of Thailand.
The smell of freshly washed hair makes me feel alive. Stale wine smells like decadence. Incense like adolescence. The way sheets smell with the absence of a lover. That’s the way it used to be. Now it’s how strange my sheets smell when I share my bed. I don’t know what it’s like to remember a lover’s smell anymore. What it’s like to miss it.
What do I smell like?
I asked someone once, when I was nineteen. He said sweet. But it wasn’t the answer for which I was looking. I wanted him to be specific; to say vanilla or blueberries or Chanel. Or I wanted him to be abstract and say poetry or hope or Monet. Sometimes I wonder if I only want a lover so that at least one person in the world would know what it felt like to miss my smell.