The inspiration for today’s blog came, randomly, from my medicine cabinet.

To backtrack, last weekend was a busy, fun-filled time in Chicago and South Bend with my friend Esther and at the Notre Dame football game with Leon’s friends.  As I wrote in my last post, taking a trip to both a big city and smaller city can feel like you’re taking two trips in one, and this was no exception.  Leon and I did everything that weekend from chow down on Chicago deep dish pizza to tailgate to enjoy the sight of Indiana’s picturesque farmland.

When we got back to D.C., it was time to jump into another busy week.  Leon had a conference in North Carolina all week, and I had several things going on at work.  Not to mention that it rained all week in D.C. and the Metro was plagued with problems, meaning endless delays and listening to unnerved fellow passengers describe their frustrations in choice words.

Needless to say, Friday morning I was pretty tired.  I stood in front of my bathroom mirror getting ready for work, when I asked myself the question that I ask every morning:  What do I want to smell like today?

Scientists say that scent and memory are connected, and I can say without a doubt that it’s true.  This morning, for instance, I reached for my bottle of Shalimar perfume–sandlewood, vanilla, and musk blended into a warm scent that reminds me of my childhood in Texas.  My mother has worn Shalimar since she was a teenager, and I started wearing it as a child as well.  Whenever I miss my family or my homeland, it brings me comfort to spray on some of that scent I smelled so much growing up.

After I spritzed myself with Shalimar this morning, I thought about other scents that hold special meaning. There’s Love Spell, the body splash from Victoria’s Secret that my friends and I were obsessed with in college and that smells, according to my former coworker Ken, like “a Strawberry Patch doll.”  Whenever I smell smoky incense, I am transported back to Asia or northern Africa–I still have incense sticks that I picked up at markets in Egypt, India, Thailand, and Indonesia, and whenever I need a taste of the exotic I use one of those.  Smelling anything from the store Lush, especially the fantastic pink-hued “Rock Star” soap, makes me reminisce about graduate school days in London.  Lavender takes me back to France, where the purple stalks grow everywhere and perfume the air itself.  Prada’s Amber perfume reminds me of a girls’ trip with my mother and sister-in-law through Italy; its distinct scent reminds me of strolling through the winding cobblestone streets of Europe.

Those are just a few examples, but it underscores the notion that scents appeal to our deepest sensibilities, often comforting us when we need comforting, lifting our spirits, and reminding us of pleasant memories.

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