Friday, 12 October 2012
The smell of home
By all rights, this unworn cape should smell of wool or stores or that nasty new-clothes-smell that so many things seem to have. But as soon as I opened the box, I was enveloped in the scent of home. That unique mixture of fresh Florida air and a slight hint of moisture and the wood of my parents' closets and something else I can't define.
I held the cape up to my nose, and I breathed in. And I cried.
I cried for the home my dad is selling...the home of my childhood. My root in my world that has seen too many moves, too many temporary dwellings. I cried for the never-to-be chance to have a good, loving relationship with my mom, and for the good-byes she wouldn't let me say. I cried for my dad, knowing after our summer together how very hard this packing up and clearing out is on him.
And I cried because I know that once that smell of home fades from this cape, it's gone forever.
When I came back after the summer, I hauled with me a large white coverlet that used to live on the guest room bed. Part of my reason was that looking at it reminded me of being a kid, and seeing that always perfect white coverlet in the guest room that waited for the next visitor...my grandmother, a cousin, an aunt or uncle. But mostly I brought it back because it carried that same wonderful smell of home.
Only weeks after returning to Texas, my dog jumped up on the coverlet with muddy paws, and I had to wash the coverlet. With that wash, the smell of home vanished.
Now in the final days of packing up for his move, my dad found this cape and sent me one last breath of home. The house is nearly empty there in Florida, so there will be no more surprises to bring me that scent.
If it was a look, I could photograph it. A sound could be recorded. But that scent...that most evocative of our senses...there is no way to capture it.
So for now it hangs in my closet. And I will inhale that bit of home every chance I get until the Texas air takes it away. And on that day, I know I'll cry again.
Because then, when my childhood home is someone else's house and the smell of home is gone for good, all of it (my home, my mom, my childhood) will exist only in my memory.