Thursday, May 1, 2008

A Reminder...

I was grocery shopping the other week, and I wandered down the household products aisle just to stand indecisively in front of the laundry detergent for a few minutes. I knew that we were almost out (so it was definitely on the list) but, as I am known to do, I couldn't decide which one to try.

I rarely stick with any one product long. In fact, I frequently change all the products in my house and toiletry cabinet. I like to switch it up and experience new things. It's nice to have a change of pace - even if that change of pace is simply switching from lilac scented to lemon scented dish detergent. Plus, I'm a total whore for new and improved packaging (yep, I'm the sucker that remarks on how cute that bottle of ketchup is - I know, LAME).

So, I was studying the different brands and checking out the options when I realized that I had actually tried most of them. I wasn't interested in any of the Tide products because Husband hates them for some reason, and I did not see anything earth-shattering happening with Cheer, so I turned my attention to one of the only brands I had not yet purchased: Gain.

I'd heard good things about Gain. The commercials boast an impressive longevity in scent, and a college friend of Husband's used to finish her laundry, hold a piece up to her face, inhale dramatically and deeply, and say "Ahhhhhhh. Gain." So, I decided, what the heck, I'll give it a shot.

Life progressed and clothing got dirty and we finally had the occasion to use the Gain several days later. Several loads of laundry, and a special wash for my favorite "napping blanket" were done without much incident (in fact, I had almost completely forgotten that I'd bought the Gain at all). I folded the laundry (because that's my job), put it away, and cuddled up on the couch with my favorite (clean!) blanket to watch some TV.

As I was sitting there, I pulled some of the blanket to my face and took in the smell. It was lovely, fresh and clean, and over the next hour or so I probably smelled the damn thing 20 times. What struck me as strange, though, was that on that 20th smell, something hit me as achingly familiar. You know that feeling? When life suddenly slaps you in the face with a memory? A memory so stowed away that it could only be convinced out with a smell or sight or incident? It was one of those moments. I smelled that blanket and WHAM. I knew there was something there to remember. Something that made me immediately feel safe, warm, and happy.

It did not come to me right away. In fact, it was not until the next night when we had finished with dinner that I finally pinpointed it.

Husband was washing the dishes (because that's his job) and I had just sat down to relax a bit. I reached over to grab my blanket, and as I wrapped its warmth up around me, the reason for the memory came rushing in so quickly that my eyes welled up with tears and my heart filled with happiness and comfort.

It was my best friend.

Her clothes. The sheets on the guest bed at her parents' house. Hugging her and being near her. She smelled like this. It was the detergent that her mother used to wash her clothes in high school. It was the smell of being close to her and seeing her everyday, and living in the same town.

So simple. And so obvious at that moment that I couldn't believe I'd ever forgotten it. So many nights I slept in the double bed in her parents' guest bedroom. So many nights as teenage girls, we'd fallen asleep with this scent all around us and talked about all the stupid, simple, teenage things that we cared about.

It sounds silly, but smelling that blanket brought her back to me for a minute. For just a minute I was 17 and I was sleeping over at my best friend's house. For just a moment I was back there in that safe little place that always calmed my teen angst and rebellion. Her home had felt like my own during those tumultuous years. Whenever I felt misunderstood, she understood me. And whenever I was scared, she comforted me. And all of that love and all of that friendship was all wrapped up in the way those sheets smelled and in the way the scent called back how I would finally drift off to sleep feeling secure again, feeling like I knew myself again, feeling at peace.

Of course, we are still best friends. But, I don't see her or speak to her all that often. There used to be a day when I never doubted that we would always be as close as we were at 17. There used to be a day when I would have laughed at the idea of not speaking to her at least twice everyday. But that day is here.

It's part of growing up, and I know that. So, the lump in my throat was brief but poignant. I love her and miss her. And I remember us then more clearly than I have in years. And I will not forget us.

Thank you, Gain. Thank you.


Trenches of Mommyhood said...

Isn't it so weird how a random smell can bring all those emotions back in a rush?
I swear, I cannot smell Irish Spring soap without thinking of my very first real "love" in high school. And it has been almost 17 years!

Day Dreamer said...

My best friend always smells me and tells me I smell hair...

For a while we weren't talking...long story...but now we are and have the opportunity to have a new, fresh start. One of the first things she did was give me a long hug and tell me she missed my smell. Funny, I know, but I totally 'get' this. It's wonderful to have a friend that close. And even tho our lives have gotten in the way of our long talks...I will love her always. Hope you give her a call soon! Hugs!

Kelley said...

So many people don't get my thing with smells. They can make me violently ill (certain hand wash reminds me of morning sickness) well up with tears or crack up laughing. A brief whiff can change my mood completely.

I am glad I know someone else as freaky as me :)

simplypink said...

Great post. Scents are definitely a magic time machine. :)