The smell of a memory

I took the dropper out of the bottle. The bottle was dark brown with a white label. I put half a dropper full in the palm of my hand. I gently rubbed my hands together and then applied the oil to my face. I was immediately hit with the smell. What is that? I wondered. It was so familiar. I kept smelling it trying to bring the memory back. I looked like a huffer, standing in my bathroom, inhaling the smell over and over again. Ahh, there it was, the memory.

I was back in the Euclid house. I was back to my sister, Wendy’s, paint by number kits. The faces with the big hats and droopy eyes. Very detailed. The little plastic containers of paint with the corresponding numbers were all hooked together by plastic, like a plastic chain gang. The brushes were small and low quality. The cardboard paint board had the numbers all over the board. The canvas was approximately 8×11 in size and had light blue ink. Hours spent on each master piece. Hours spent on the creation. Hoping it looked “real.” Hoping it looked like you actually painted it yourself. Free hand, not line and number hand. Wondering if you could frame it and hang it up in the house. Could it be that real looking? Could it be that good? Hell no! Not even close. 

Wendy did a good job with her paintings. Me, not so much. I couldn’t stay in the lines to save my life. I had to be careful with the paint. It’s like paining your toenails or fingernails. You think you are being super careful and then you get the big ass giant blob of paint on the first stroke and no matter what you try to do to fix it, it doesn’t work. Polish all over the place, same with the paint. I would get so frustrated. Patience didn’t exist for me then. I had a little temper, or stubbornness, take your pick. They are pretty much the same. 

Those kits provided hours of learning and hours of spending time on a craft, even if it was cheating using the numbers to create a painting.  Hours spent learning patience. Hours spent learning the art of patience. I wonder who invented them. What a great idea it was, and a moneymaker no doubt. I always remember Wendy doing stuff like that. She was always sketching in notebooks too. She was creative. She still is. I am so glad we had the opportunity as kids to do those kinds of things. We were lucky. 

The oil I was busy huffing trying to bring back the memory was Rosehip Seed Oil. I wonder if it was a base for the paints. It is so weird though every time I smell it now that is the only thing I can think of. 

It is so interesting how so many memories came alive from just a smell. Life is curious and life is crazy sometimes. 

kid lessons

The scar was small, but wide in the middle. It was about an inch long, left leg, upper thigh. It was faint, yet the memories remained as if it happened yesterday. 

It was the Euclid house. I was around 8 years old. My sister, Wendy, was about 12. I remember the timeframe clearly because it was around the time she had gotten her tonsils out and had been in severe pain. She didn’t recover well. Probably because I stole her Aspergum. The gum she was supposed to chew to relieve the pain in her throat from the tonsils being ripped out. I felt bad. The Aspergum was good though. I liked the orange better than the cherry. 

Everyone was watching TV. I snuck into the bathroom. There it was on the side of the bathtub looking innocent and harmless. I thought it was cool looking. I wondered why I didn’t get to use it and my sister did. It wasn’t fair. She got to do everything. She got to have fun all the time. I didn’t care she was older and possibly, just maybe, that’s why. 

I kept looking at it, contemplating, wondering. I wasn’t sure how to use it. Which way was the right way? I couldn’t tell. I picked it up and looked at it some more. I put my foot up on the bathtub and stood there like I was Captain Morgan. I looked at it again. I held it in my right hand. I was going to do it. I was going to shave my legs. Why should Wendy have all the fun? Because blood everywhere. That’s why. 

Razor in right hand. I didn’t know how to use it. I started about mid thigh and swiped down. Oh no. Everyone knows you swipe up, idiot. I felt the pain go through my body from my toes to the top of my head. The warmth. Then the white. The pain. The blood. The hole in my leg. I knew I was in trouble. I didn’t know what to do. The bleeding would not stop. 

I put the razor back on the tub. I was starting to panic. How was I going to hide what I had just done? I grabbed a t-shirt and tied it around my leg like a tourniquet. I walked back out to the living room and got in the chair. I acted like nothing had happened. I acted innocent, because I was. HA! NOT!

My leg hurt so bad. It was still bleeding and the hole was gaping open. Dad asked me what happened to my leg. I told him nothing. I think mom had been in the kitchen and then peeked in and saw the tourniquet. She asked me what happened. I told her I tried to shave. She went back in the kitchen. 

The scab was horrendous, once it started to heal. Thick and crusty. Disgusting. The constant reminder that I didn’t know what I was doing and that I probably should have quit acting like I did. 

The lesson. The life lesson. The scars of childhood mistakes and mysteries. 

 

would you like some fresh apricots?

I got a message today. “Morning neighbor…would you like some fresh apricots :)” Of course I would. We love apricots. The message was from Mary Jo. She and her husband and daughter live in the Asbury house. The log house. The house Sandy was living in when she got cancer. The house she was living in when I first met her. The house where I spent a lot of time with her. 

The timing of this message was perfect. I am usually not home during the day, but today I stayed home with a miserable headache. 

I hopped in the car and headed over. It felt weird. It was kind of overwhelming. I pulled into the driveway. I hadn’t been on this path in years, since 2003. Everything looked different, but the same. The trees were so much bigger. The garage looked so much smaller. 

I met Mary Jo outside and we talked about how much bigger the trees and shrubs were. We walked around the yard. It was beautiful. She showed me her butterfly garden and her she shed. Everything was beautiful. They have done such a wonderful job caring for the property. So peaceful and so inviting. The sound of the leaves blowing from the wind was heavenly. It was like they were talking to us, telling us their secrets, making sure we knew. 

The apricot tree was HUGE. I barely remember it being there. The branches were so heavy with fruit they were almost hanging to the ground. They looked like they could break at any second. 

It was kind of eerie walking around, remembering. 

The flag pole looked so small now. The trees were tall enough to cover it up. Sandy would always say if the garage door was open and the flag was up, anyone could come and visit. That was their sign. That was their signal. 

Mary Jo asked if I wanted to come inside. I said sure. I would love to. As soon as I walked in, I felt your presence. It went through my whole body. You were there. 

We went in the kitchen. I could see you standing at the counter. It was like you were frozen in time. Making shrimp scampi and having a glass of chardonnay and doing your best Pee Wee Herman laugh. My favorite. 

We went in the bathroom, off the master bedroom. They updated the bathroom and it was gorgeous, so tastefully done.  I remember then, standing at your dresser, going through your jewelry. Trying to decide what you would want to wear to your funeral. Going through your closets, wondering what to do with your clothes. We just didn’t know. I can still smell your perfume, Dona Karen Cashmere Mist. Every time I smell that I remember you. The smell of sandalwood and vanilla gets me. I love that smell.  Mary Jo had some kind of vanilla perfume or body spray on too. I could smell it when she was standing by me and the breeze was coming towards me. 

Next we went up to the loft. My favorite room of the house. I could see Nancy and Kathy and me, sprawled out on the floor as we wrote your obituary. The story of your life. The story of you. Trying to get it right. Trying not to disrespect you. 

We came back downstairs and went back outside and talked some more about the trees and the property. I thank Mary Jo for inviting me over. It was a very special visit.

As I got in the car to head back home, the tears started. I couldn’t help but miss you. The irony set in. I am older now than you were when you passed away. You were only 50. Life is crazy. Life is sad. Life is peaceful. Life is beautiful. Sandy, you are missed. 

right here, right now

How long? How long are you going to do those meal replacement shakes? How long?

How long before you wake up one day and think of all the things that have passed you by because you were busy chasing a less than ideal body. A less than ideal lifestyle. A less than ideal mindset. You can’t live off shakes forever. Your body wants to feel satisfied. Chewing food satisfies the cravings. Chewing food helps the digestion. The texture of food satisfies you. 

When we are constantly chasing skinny, you are missing out on your life. Why are we chasing it constantly? Why can’t we just be healthy? Why can’t we just eat instead of constantly dieting or finding the next magic pill or the next magic power? Why?

How much life have you missed out on because of hating on your body? Have you ever been to a party or a social gathering and totally deprived yourself of any fun because deep down you were disgusted with your body? I have. I am willing to bet a lot of us have. 

Maybe you should try something different. Try something that is out of your comfort zone. Try not being so hard on yourself for how your body looks. Try loving yourself where you are right now, where you are right in this moment, where you are in this space. Then and only then can you start to heal from the chase. 

Start giving your body the fuel it needs to function optimally. Think of food as something your body needs and wants in order to make it easier for you to walk up that flight of stairs. Feed your body. Feed your soul. When you eat better, you feel better. 

Eat real food. Enjoy real food. Learn to taste your food, instead of shoveling it in your mouth so fast, you don’t know what you even ate. Learn to slow down. Quit using food as feelings. 

Food and feelings go hand in hand. I know it can be super complex. I know these behaviors can be used as a coping mechanism. Changing our behaviors can be extremely hard. We often start out with great intentions and then just plain struggle with being consistent. What’s keeping you from making this lifestyle change? Do the benefits outweigh the cost of what you are doing right now? I say yes. I say you can do this. 

I say, get curious about why you do the things you do. Work on it. Every single day. Work on yourself. Love yourself. Right here. Right now. Begin to heal.