Disclaimer: This one is
long-winded wordy. Bear with me.
There are few things in life that spark a tangible memory, a feeling or deep-rooted emotions–something that whisks us back in time filled with intrigue and curiosity. One – which I’ve mentioned before – is music; the other (and arguably much more intense) is a scent.
It’s amazing how just a slight fragrance of something can transport us to a time we thought we had long forgotten or buried in our past: a person, a place or a product (ahem–unintended alliteration). We’re hurtled away beyond our control where our capture is not content to stop quietly at contenting us with a vague memory.
I experienced this five months ago after we visited a British import store (not in MT, unfortunately) and I bought my husband and brother-in-law some Irn Bru. Irn Bru is a soft drink made solely in Scotland concocted in 1901, and it is the only red-headed pubescent schoolboy-coloured drink in the world that outsells Coke (I wonder if that ticks them off no end?). For years it was only available in Scotland, but can now, in the last decade or more, be bought in the rest of the UK, Australia, (sparsely in the US) and the Soviet Republic (don’t ask).
I stopped drinking my caffeinated beverage of choice – Dr. Pepper – when I became pregnant with Ian, I decided to make the change, no one asked me to. And anyway, I soon noticed that if I didn’t have one every day, I’d experience excruciating headaches – as close to migraines as I cared to get.
I didn’t buy one for myself, but opted for Ginger Beer (and definitely not alike to it’s North American cousin, Ginger Ale. This ginger drink has “chungas”) and happily chugged it, burning the tender lining of my esophagus and nether regions.
On returning to my mother-in-law’s place, I opened up my brother-in-law’s bottle and took a sniff. I was suddenly standing in my Mum’s living room, loitering right next to her chair. It threw me for six. Mum drinks it like it’s going out of fashion, and for a brief moment, I’d forgotten that. Home sickness, a longing, emptiness–whatever you want to call it, swept over me like a cold unwanted blanket. Silent tears fell and I realised how much I missed my family, and how guarded and reticent I’d let myself become.
Similar instances of this have occurred since then, but this one I find much more intriguing. It happens every time I walk through the heavy mental doors leading to Ian’s pre-school class. I don’t know what it is: it might be the art supplies, kid friendly glue or the disinfectant floor cleaner. There is something innately familiar (and comforting) about the smell, and it smells just like my pre-school did way back when. I pause as I walk in and take a deep breath, soaking in all the care-free, clay molding, easel painting innocence.
I recently sat in on the class and helped out with their craft project (she made it look like helping her was my idea, I was impressed, but really, I wanted to help). They’d pre-painted some paper plates brown and were going to put monkey faces on them. The other teacher was gone for the day and had remarked how she’d completed the homework only to find it chewed by the dog the following morning.
I sat and made a template on deep cream (construction) paper with a large oval disc, adding two small circle discs to the top, slightly joining. I then preceded to cut out eight of these for the class. Following that, I cut sixteen brown ears adding a straight edge and sixteen circle inside parts in deep cream. As I neared the competition of the last ears the teacher said, “Do you have a template I could copy?” “Yeah, I have it right here.” “OK good, I need to make some for the afternoon class later–” “I can do it, how many more do you need?” “Oh, another eight.”
I enjoy walking into the world of a pre-schooler where life is simpler and familiar. Despite the struggles I have trying to reason and explain motives and actions with Ian, I am careful to take the time to enjoy it. I know all too soon, it will be gone in an instant with only a faint memory to draw on.