Smells like teen spirit

14 May
So, my memory for events in my own life is well… spotty at best.  My brain has prioritized “knowledge” over personal experiences. Therefore I can better explain how neurons work (nerd) or how data packets are transmitted over the Internet (geek) than what I did in high school. Or even last week.  My best friend, who seems to have a strong propensity for remembering events and people in our lives, teases me that she’s going to re-invent our high school years — and I’ll never know.

However, there is a neurological ability (see — BIG nerd) that most if not all people possess (sometimes called the “nostalgic nose“) that provides us with a window to our past.  Apparently, our senses of smell and taste — especially our first experiences with a particular smell or taste — are strongly associated with our memories.  I’m sure you’ve taken a whiff of something and said “oh… that reminds me of ”  In fact, these memories are often emotional in nature rather than just experiential (oh, such a nerd).   So, you can even relive those feelings just by finding that smell again.  Pretty cool, huh?

I recently had a very pleasant experience with this.  We ate breakfast restaurant where they boasted made-from-scratch jams.  My husband raved how good his raspberry jam was.  I had to give it a try. Mmmm — this jam smells and tastes just like my moms!  Now, I haven’t had my mother’s homemade jam in over 20 years, but the whiff and taste of this jam brought me back to our kitchen growing up, my mom cooking jam, the canning jars, storing the jam in the freezer, making peanut butter and jam sandwiches and picking berries with my family.  All from a whiff and a taste. 

I have another scent nostalgia that I still get to relive on special occasions.  About 1 year BK (before kids), hubby and I decided to take “that big trip to Europe.”  While in Paris, it seemed like the touristy thing to buy some perfume.  I wore this perfume for the rest of the vacation.  Now, if I ever want to “go to back to Europe,” I just have to put on my perfume.  Suddenly, I’m in Paris.  Or Venice.  Or Athens. 

Do you have a scent that “takes you back”?

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7 Responses to “Smells like teen spirit”

  1. Justine May 14, 2010 at 4:20 pm #

    Yes, I have many of these moments, especially with scents. Except my faulty memory only works when least expected because now that I try to recall what scents take me back, I have not a clue!

  2. TKW May 14, 2010 at 6:24 pm #

    Come on! Spill! What was the perfume?I'm a smeller, too. It's my strongest sense, by far.

  3. Corinne May 14, 2010 at 9:03 pm #

    The nostalgic nose is one of the best ways to transform an every day event to a spectacular trip down memory lane… love it when that happens!

  4. Amber May 15, 2010 at 12:24 am #

    I don't think you are a nerd. I love little scientific details, especially about memory.My nostalgic nose has been tampered with. The culprit? Pregnancy. I am very sensitive to smells before pregnancy and while pregnant? Oh crap. Thus, when I smell something now? I usually associate it with nausea and/or throwing up. Blegh.

  5. kt moxie May 15, 2010 at 2:35 pm #

    TKW — The perfume is called "Hypnotic Poison" by Christian Dior. I don't know if it's still available, but I LOVE it! Amber — pregnancy messed with my smell. Both times. The first round: I claimed I gained a "superpower" of "super-smell." I smelled *everything.* My daughter now has a *strong* sense of smell! My second pregnancy: I had nausea throughout my entire pregnancy that was so severe that I was on the same medication that they give chemo patients just so that I could eat. I could barely enter a kitchen!

  6. Rudri May 15, 2010 at 3:59 pm #

    I went to Europe for my honeymoon and relate to the perfume story. We went to a perfume factory in France and of course, I bought some scents. I still have the box and the fragrance. Anytime I think of France or smell perfume I am transported back to that factory and my honeymoon.

  7. Sarah May 17, 2010 at 10:16 pm #

    OH yes I have scents that take me back. But true to your post I cannot for the life of me recall any of them until I catch a whiff. Isn't that silly? I can tell you that the perfume I actually spritzed on today catapults me back to the early days with my husband. When we were footloose and plain stupid. But it was a beautiful time and had we not had that, I would not have this now. Lovely NERDY post. (ps: love the nerd part. love it. no apologizing.)

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