Friday, November 12, 2010

the scent of childhood

I live life as one enormous sensory experience. I suppose that applies to everyone, but I do believe we all have entirely different and particular ways of experiencing and processing the world. For me, vision and scent are the apex of my memory. I am an eternal child in that I insist on touching and smelling everything. For example, my husband has to physically pull me out of the body care aisle at Whole Foods on every single grocery shopping trip. I just cannot help myself from picking up all the chunks of oddly shaped homemade soap or from opening the enticing bottles of organic shampoo and bubble bath....I...MUST.....SMELL. It's a little crazy, I know.

They say that scent recollection is the most powerful form of long-term memory, because the olfactory bulb is part of the brain's limbic system, otherwise known as the "emotional brain." When you smell a new scent your brain forges a link between the smell and memory, which is why a simple whiff of bubblegum can send you back to KB Toy store where you used to stand in line waiting to purchase your Big League Chew (if you were a child of the 80's you might remember that fabulous chewing gum that was meant to mimic chewing tobacco--how child appropriate!). Well, this explains why I seem to have a constant influx of flashbacks flooding through my mind given I'm constantly smelling everything I walk by!

At any rate, I had such a flashback experience the other day when I suddenly felt the intense need to make an english muffin pizza (or in this case, a gluten free toast pizza because I'm allergic to wheat). I have not had this tasty childhood treat since I was probably 13 years old, but in the middle of a writing session with my husband I was wildly stricken with an overwhelming need for one. I can't explain that....perhaps it's because I was writing about my childhood? I'm not sure. But, my husband was a willing participant in the toast pizza craze.

We were both sent back to those after school days of fixing easy snacks the minute we could smell the pasta sauce and melting cheese waft out of the oven. And OH did I enjoy every bite of that "pizza." I would've considered updating it to an adult version by making it on a lovely french bread, adding some fresh garlic and basil, and topping it with buffalo mozzarella.....but, I'm not sure it would've been the same. Sometimes, we need to travel back and revisit a long forgotten memory. And I think when the desire strikes we should run with it, because our brain and subconscious are far more intelligent than "we" are. There is always a reason for what seems like a "random" thought or desire, and I happen to be one of those people who trusts what I don't know and allows herself to be led into the unknown.

So, close your eyes and experience the world of your senses! Who knows where it will take you.

(Oh, and yes, those are pictures of a younger Lola Rain:)

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