Friday, February 18, 2005

Smells Like Teen Spirit

Isn't it funny how a simple smell can trigger a vivid memory? It's almost like smells are time machines. I wonder why that is, what sort of evolutionary advantage that gives us.

I was thinking about smell and memory this week. On Monday, I was getting ready to pick up Peter from the airport. I usually get dressed up for the occasion - or dressed up for me at least. I'm the world's worst girl when it comes to girly accoutrement like make-up and purses. I keep my hair as simple as possible so I don't have to fuss with it. But on Monday, it was raining and I didn't want fly-away bangs or too much annoying humidity curl, so I dug out the hairspray.

One whiff of the Aussie Sprunch Spray and I was back in high school, getting ready for homecoming or a trip to the mall. I pictured the Big Hair that was standard-issue for mall trips back in the day. It was amazing how visceral and immediate the reaction was. I almost felt the ancient yellow and white curling iron in my hand.

I'm not one of those nostalgia freaks. I'm very glad the high school days are behind me. But it was funny to see myself back then, when at least I tried to wear make-up even though I never got the hang of eyeliner. I wonder if that younger me could picture this older me and what she'd think of me.

On balance, I'm much happier now. I might have to worry about mortgages and bank balances but at least I don't have to worry about math tests and high school dances. It's weird to remember how you were, see how you are, and wonder how you're going to be all because of the purple-y smell of a hairspray.

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