My old perfume. It’s sitting on my vanity. I stare at it. I sometimes think about wearing it but then I remember what it does to me.
It always takes me back to those college days. It makes me travel back in time to a moment when everything was in disarray yet somehow still extremely sweet.
My old perfume makes me breathe sweet nostalgia. Sometimes not so sweet, but nostalgia all the same. The guy standing next to me at Crossfit often smells like my ex-boyfriend. He wears the same deodorant. It’s not necessarily a smell I want to remember, but the memories that come are oh so vivid. I can’t say I hate it. I sometimes like being reminded of obstacles I have overcome. But on those tough days, I hate that guy with the deodorant. I want him to just go far far away.
So what is about scents that just drive us wild? How is it that they can take us to places we forgot we even visited? Why do they make us smile and cringe all at the same time? I use the same perfume because I want people to think of me when they smell a certain scent. I know the power of scent but why do scents hold so much power over us?
I read that we register scents in a part of our brain that is extremely close to the parts that create memories and emotions. No other sense is located so closely to these regions in our brain. This scientific fact could explain the vivid memories that accompany scents. But there is much more to it than brain receptors and regions. When I spray my old perfume my heart beats faster while my mind plays a slideshow of my past. Could it be we smell with our hearts?
Memories are just as ambiguous as scents. They say every time we recall a memory we alter the original version in one way or another. So if all of these receptors are neighbors in our brains, does that mean none of them provide reliable or vivid accounts of our past?
While we may never know the answer to all of the questions in the world, scents are pure magic. They are small glimpses into our soul that our mind tries to make sense of. Some things in life are just better left unknown.