Part VI: Smells Like Happy
Smells can trigger just as much memory and emotion as sights and sounds. Sometimes even more so. Some smells can trigger anxiety, depression, sadness. Maybe the smell of the perfume of a lost love... or the coffee that a relative used to drink. Some people love certain smells because they remind them of home...or of a place they have been on vacation...or a favorite food.
This is the story of two of my most favorite scents.
From the time I was 3 to the time I was 8, my mother owned her own dental practice. Her clinic was located exactly halfway between my elementary school and our home. Everyday after school, my nanny would pick me up and drop me off at my mom's and we would wait there until my dad picked us both up after work and took us home. I remember every afternoon being driven to the clinic and regardless of whether my mom had a patient in the chair at the time, she would always come out to the reception area and give me a hug and she would always smell like her favorite perfume mixed with "dentist". She would walk me to the very last room, give me some water and hand me my blanket (which was conveniently stored along with some books and videos in her office). I would crawl up on the big dentists chair as my mom lowered the back rest and I would take my afternoon nap right there. In the dark while my mother worked in the next room, the sound of the vents running...the buzz of her instruments, and her voice as she talked to her patients would lull me to sleep. When I woke up, she or one of her assistants would take me to the office and I would read or do homework untill my dad came and got us.
Even now the smell of the antisceptics and the recycled air of a dental clinic reminds me of childhood. Even the sounds of the drills and random other machines running feels welcoming to me. My mother is still my dentist and everytime I see her for an appointment I always make it a point to give her a big hug before I sit down. If anyone ever asks me to name a smell guaranteed to make me feel completely relaxed and at easeit would be this: Donna Karan Cashmere Mist and tooth polish and fluoride Gels...better than Novacaine!
My Mommy and Me