Scent Memory — Keeping Husbands Out of the Dog House Since 2011

Scent memory is a powerful thing. There are still smells from my childhood that take me back instantly — the smell of rain on concrete reminds me of my grandmother’s sun porch in Pennsylvania. Fresh peas smell like my mom’s garden. And I’ve yet to smell it in years, but my dad’s old slide projector screen had such a specific scent, that it would probably stop me in my tracks if I came across it now.

The smell of chai reminds me of when I met my husband. We were both in college; I was 19, he was 21. Babies! We began dating in early April, when the beginnings of spring teased us, but being in New England, the days were still damp and often cold.

To warm up, we often met at a coffee shop at the top of campus to grab a cup of spiced chai. We would curl up in a cozy corner, take a drive, or walk the quad, my drink in one hand, his hand in the other. It was my first experience with the drink, and I certainly have him to thank for the love affair I have with it today. The smell of that chai was heavenly — milky, spicy, warm. I would hold it under my nose and the steam rise above my eyelashes and curl the baby hairs around my head. Hours after I finished the cup, he would remark how my hair would still smell like cinnamon.

Naturally, the scent of chai is a pleasant one for me. It reminds me of love, of the early days when life was full of what-ifs and possibility.

This morning was supposed to be my day to sleep in. Our 13-month old usually begins his day around seven and I am the one who gets up with him most mornings. Once a week, however, my husband and I have an agreement. As hard as it is for him to get up (he’s not a morning person), on that day, he does. Albeit with some grumbling on his part. He takes over the early morning routine, and I roll over, pull the blanket over my head and enjoy an extra hour or so of sleep.

This morning, he didn’t get up. I nudged him. I shook him. I sighed loudly. He responded by rolling away from me.

Annoyed, I got up. While our son played, I banged around the kitchen, unloading the dishwasher noisily, closing cabinets louder than necessary. Since it was clear that my day had begun and my bed was no longer an option, I made myself a spiced chai.

As I raised the mug towards my mouth, the steam hit my face and suddenly, there it was. The milky, spicy, warm smell from nearly a decade ago. I paused a minute before taking my first sip, thinking of how far we’ve come since those chilly days and how now, my hair would probably smell like cinnamon hours later, only this time, our little boy might notice it first when ready for a nap, he buries his head into me.

And what do you know, by the time my husband came downstairs, I wasn’t all that annoyed anymore.

By Molly
Molly’s Blog: These Little Moments
Follow on Twitter: MollyLovesShoes

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One Comment on “Scent Memory — Keeping Husbands Out of the Dog House Since 2011”

  1. August 15, 2011 at 9:49 AM #

    Love this post. Chai and I got off to a bad start — the coffee shop I used to work in used a concentrate that smelled like ketchup, so I’ve never cared for chai because it reminds me of that. But Molly has mentioned the deliciousness that is Mocafe chai more than once and the thought of having my hair smell like cinnamon all day is pretty appealing, so I think I may just have to give it a try!

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