Over time I've learned that the sense of smell is a pretty powerful thing. If you want to be pulled back into time, then there is nothing quite like scent to do it...unless you have a time machine, of course.
But for the rest of us who have to rely on riding the wings of nostalgia to get to the past, scent is an invaluable tool. Whether you've just stepped into an old room you haven't seen in a decade and are transported back ten years, or whether you've stepped back into the kitchen where you just made a delicious dinner and are transported back ten minutes, it's all due to some aroma drifting up your nostrils and somewhere into your brain. Since I'm an English major and not a scientist, I'm going to assume that's how it works.
A week ago I had a scent-y experience myself when I went to visit family in Connecticut. The last time I had been there it has been the chilly month of January and I had been enamored with Les Misérables. I had just seen the movie a few weeks prior, I had just finished my first full listen of the International recording earlier that morning, and I had just bought the enormous novel by Victor Hugo later that morning. My entire world was filled with Les Misérables. I heard the songs in my head all day and by night, I read the text.
Now, going back to my grandparents' house in July, quite a few things had changed. It was beastly ninety degree weather, I had a new full time job, and I was in the process of buying a house with my boyfriend. And while I still loved Les Misérables, it no longer occupied all of my waking thoughts. I was, in fact, on an Abraham Lincoln learning kick.
Carrying my bags, the flush from the hot weather, and a Mary Todd Lincoln novel, I walked up the carpeted stairs to the third floor guest room I always stay in. Halfway up the steps, I was hit with a blast of scent so enormous I could have sat on the stairs for the next hour and contemplated January. Because the wonderful, familiar scent of the guest room where I had so diligently expanded my Les Misérables knowledge brought back roaring memories of January and that beautiful time when I learned of hope, redemption, and a wonderful man named Jean Valjean through Mr. Victor Hugo.
And so, next time you enter a building or room, take a moment to sniff the air. You never know what moment you'll be brought back to.