Sounds and Smells That Carry Me Back Home

15 05 2008

(For more, check out the Thinking Homeschoolers wiki.)

It’s a cliche, sure, but for me it’s all about the music.

I feel so lucky to be a bona fide boomer because the comforting music of my own childhood and teen years is always on tap, still playing on oldie radio whenever and wherever I want it. (Our kids won’t be so lucky as a demographic, to be pandered to the way we’ve always been.)

From elementary school hair-brushing and afterschool jump-roping singing along with the endlessly looping lyrics of Roy Orbison and the earliest Beatles, to I’m a Believer and Satisfaction and House of the Rising Sun and Brown-Eyed Girl and California Dreamin’ and You’ve Made Me So Very Happy on my sunbaked, oiled-up beach transistor radio, to Stairway to Heaven (and soon some early Springsteen) seeming like “real music” fit for college life as I settled into my first dorm room and was initiated into the vastly superior, mysterious fidelities of FM radio!

Speaking of the beach, now I remember how not just the music but the smells transport me back through time to those endless summers. My regular teen skin-cancer-courting grounds stretched up and down the east coast of Florida, from just north of St. Augustine Beach down through Ormond and Daytona Beach. Yes, there was salt in the air and heat and sweat, but that’s not the power of smell I associate with those summers.

For me, it wasn’t the Age of Aquarius so much as the Age of Impossibly Thick and Fragrant Body-Basting Oils, bottled in dark-brown glass with gilt-edged labels that promised you could turn at least as dark as the glass, heavy, highly viscous oils smelling of banana and coconut so evocatively that it imprinted me for life. (I hope against hope the cell damage didn’t too, but it no doubt did.)
Though we don’t oil up and lay out on beach towels any more — I haven’t been to the beach at all for many years — a pina colada or even a tropi-colada smoothie brought under my nose for a sip can put me right back on that towel slowly turning on my greasy spit. . .

And Johnson’s Baby Oil in the pink-capped

bottle is another smell that takes me back to (junior and senior) high school, where we girls slathered it on whenever we WEREN’T at the beach, desperate to polish ourselves into possessing soft, smooth legs in those short short skirts we all wore to school every day. It was much too hot here for stockings much less panty hose and come to think of it, that was part of the reason getting a deep tan mattered. The legs were on display even sitting at your desk. I guess you could call our girlhood oily, or at least pretty slippery??

Which brings me to Eau (Oh!) de London. The tall bottle was striped in blue-green and lavender, and everybody in my group of friends wore it, so that all our boyfriends thought that was how girls were supposed to smell, I suppose.

I must not be the only one hoping to be transported back to those days by colognes of the Sixties — read some of these comments to see how powerful a smell can be.

(I wonder what would happen to our old high school boyfriends, the guys who are now in their 50s, if we DID manage to get these colognes back in production and middle-aged women everywhere started wearing it??)

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4 responses

16 05 2008
L

Wow. I just got a whiff. My sunbaking was all done in Fort Lauderdale, but I had that same bottle of oil. Mmmmmm.

16 05 2008
JJ

LOL – hi L, glad to know you were on the spit with me, just a couple of hours south —

16 05 2008
JJ

L, do you happen to remember Hai Karate on the guys??

16 05 2008
NanceConfer

This is what I tried to post for this entry but never got past technical problems —

Thinking About Home

The topic at Thinking Homeschoolers time is: Write about a sound, smell, or taste that you find comforting or that reminds you of home.

This time, it’s really not about “thinking”. . . it’s about what makes my house feel like home.

Sitting under the trellis that was lovingly built for me. Surrounded by jasmine, bougainvillea, gardenia, plumbago, flame vine, potted spring flowers, orchids, potted palms and overflowing baskets of spider plants. Watching cardinals, blue jays, dusky green flycatchers, woodpeckers, and warring sparrows and grackles come and go from the feeder. Enjoying a good book and a snack of cranberry scones.

None of this is my doing, mind you. I enjoy it all. I steal moments to “do nothing” and sit outside in the wonder that is our backyard. I encourage DH’s gardening hobby and DD’s baking. And reap the benefits. Good work, if you can get it! 🙂

These are the sensations that make me feel like we have created a home here. I’m no Martha Stewart but I know this is “a good thing.”

Nance

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