Wednesday, October 29, 2008

This is How I'll Remember You

Different things remind me of different people in different ways. The most sensitive trigger of memory comes to me through scent. I'm sure this sounds insane, but I really remember people's scents and draw most of my memories with them from that alone. I could be walking on a busy street downtown and catch a whiff of cigarettes and Acqua di Gio and suddenly be overcome with resentment, anger, and passion all at the same time. I connect with the way someone smells because more often than not no other person will smell the exact same way. However, in my previously cited example, I've come to find that almost every man owns a bottle of that wretched cologne. Anyhow, I love the authenticity in the idea of one's scent. I want to remember you in my own way and sometimes the strongest connection to that would be (in my case) through scent.

Of course we'll always have our memories, the images of which are seeded carefully in our minds, tucked away for that moment that brings us back. Memories however, can be unreliable if depended on alone. Of course you'll argue with me about this but really...the details can begin to fade, the dates become fuzzy and only the general thought of what once was remains. When I inhale a familiar scent of someone's cologne, or whatever fragrance it may be, I'm immediately there, in that moment that was once tucked away.

Here's a brief catalog of scents of those closest to me:
My pops smells like Old Spice and Marlboro's. My mom smells of Chanel No.5. My eldest sister, Michaela, smells clean--medically sterilized clean, and newly showered clean, like alcohol. My brother smells of mint toothpaste and Febreeze. My sister, Czarina, smells like Strawberry Lipsmacker and summer, yes, summer has a scent and she smells like it, like the midday sun on a July afternoon. And I feel I should mention the scents of my late grandparents, whose smell I can't hide from no matter where I am when I come across them. My grandpa smelled of starch spray (for ironing clothes), newspaper and freshly brewed coffee. And my grandmother smelled of waxy lipstick and moth balls.

But right after the power of remembered scent is that of sound.

I can't stand it when a song comes on that forces me to stop what I'm doing. I don't mind it because it makes me stop what I'm doing, but because of the reason of why I have to stop. Let me begin by saying that music is a part of my daily life. There isn't a day that goes by that I don't listen to music either from iPod or from my iTunes library on my laptop. I don't remember the last time I listened to the radio--wait, that's a lie. It was this past Sunday in my brother in law's car on the way to my cousin's birthday and I distinctly remember hearing a "siren" song? (I think it was by some rapper).

Anyhow, I'm picky about my music so every single song I have in my library is personal to me. So personal in fact, that I seldom ever share my music. I make mixes for my sisters every now and then but I'm very protective of my music. That also sounds insane, but hear me out. When I connect with one song, an entire album or a band, I feel like I can breathe easier. Like the lyrics of a song I love somehow makes sense of my life--or at least the part that I feel it applies to. It's a double edged sword of course, because these songs that I love can make me feel the highest of highs but also the lowest of lows. And that's the beauty in it, the beauty in music, you begin to find your own answers through someone else's words and melodies. And when you finally connect with a song you'll always remember that moment of significance, when it happened and who it happened with or because of. Unfortunately I'd like to tell you that disconnecting is also possible, but certain songs will always be associated with certain people for me.

So I was typing a paper in the computer lab today, listening to my iPod which was on shuffle. And one of those songs came on. And I swear, I stopped typing mid-sentence. The walls around me felt like they were closing in. The scarf around my neck felt restraining. You may as well have been sitting right next to me doused in your cologne. My first reaction was to hit forward on my iPod but I think in doing so all the times previous to this one, I'd forgotten to delete it from iPod completely. I lost my train of thought and had to stop typing my paper altogether. I let the song play through and I listened. I noticed how the words post-relationship sounded like an entirely different song. I wasn't bitter. I was grateful that this song, over time, had reinvented itself on its own. The words were the same and so was the music but the message that came across was something else, something new. And it was then that I decided not to delete it.

It's not like I can delete a scent from my memory bank. And I think being reminded every now then only makes you stronger since scent is usually involuntary. You don't go walking around looking for people who smell familiar--they just walk past you. So why should I delete the song, because I can? Deleting it may be the simplest solution but I've never been known to take the easy way out.

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