Wednesday, 14 March 2012

Catching up

Hello, little neglected blog. How are you? Apologies for the silence (yet again) on this end - it's been a busy few weeks since I returned! Nothing too exciting going on, really. Just work and work and friends and work. Fairly even keel.

Today, however, has been its own little nightmare. I'm getting over a bad cold, which always makes me ever-so chipper; I slipped in the rain, fell into a puddle and got to work soaking wet; and to cap it all off, I caught the heel of my shoe on the foot of my (wheeled) office chair while changing into a t-shirt, the chair went one way, I pitched forward the other way, and the knuckle of my hand caught the screen of my laptop. Rest in peace, little Lenovo screen. Rest in Peace.

Add to this the knowledge that in recent days I have also bruised my cheek by accidentally hitting my face on the arm of a chair, dumped a full cup of coffee into my lap and spilled bleach on a favorite dress, among other smaller incidents, and you will perhaps understand my frustration.

My mother, as she always used to remind me, did not name me "Grace".

But moving on to happier subjects...

I was downtown on Sunday to meet a friend for yoga. I realized mid-bus ride that I didn't have any cash with me, and I didn't know if the studio took debit cards. Thankfully, there was an ATM in a shopping center across from the studio, so I stopped in. And the smell of the shopping center brought me to Huntington, WV, to the department store (Stone & Thomas, maybe?) that we would go to with my grandmother. It was instant recognition, and a lovely surprise. I'm not sure what it was - the shoe store, perhaps? A bit of must? A combination of factors? But my nose recognized it instantly, and it made me think of the cities I visited this past trip, and their scents.

Chicago is bus fumes and dumpsters, in the nicest way possible, their odors wafting quickly past from the seat of a bike. And also the smell of the grass where its scent meets that of the lake on the north end of the Lakeshore Path. A bit of Greektown is thrown in there too, particularly the deli on the corner of Halsted and Jackson. 

DC is somewhat sterile to the nose for me, but a mix of coffee and tar can bring it back at times. Boston was the smell of the Charles mixed with a slight chill, with an overtone of books and brick. New Orleans and Baton Rouge seem like their scents should be equally green and musty, but Baton Rouge has an industrial scent that's overshadowed by hints of funk in New Orleans. The scent of crushed acorns always brings my mind to BR.

And then at a friend's place recently, the smell of the kitchen sink (slightly damp sponge, beer dregs, and soap) put me instantly back to my flat in Leeds.

When I got back to Singapore and stepped outside of the airport, the city's scent rushed to meet me. I think of it as a mixture of durian (imagined, I'm sure), the sweat of 5 million residents, and the sea air mixed to form the peculiarly Singaporean smell. It's actually quite lovely, and I was glad to let it envelop me. The recognition of the scent made me feel at home, and I sunk into it.

I may not have the greatest memory for things that happened, people I've met, or books I've read. But waft the mixed scent of gas and grass under my nose, and I can place myself into the shed of our first house in Baton Rouge. It's a powerful thing, the nose. Thanks be!

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