Thursday, February 26, 2015

Writing Scents

The image above links to an interesting article by Alistair Gee in the New Yorker.  A friend posted this to his FB account, and it caught my attention immediately!  I love this article--please take a moment now to read it.

I thought, I could probably write a blog post about smells--then realized I already had in my FB status.  I have a very strong sense of smell, and my spouse does not. He once asked if it was good or bad for me to have that, and I realized it's probably good for survival and health (I can easily tell if food is "off"), but not particularly pleasant. Usually when I notice a smell he does not, it's something foul.  Lucky guy--he doesn't ever smell skunk--wish I could say the same!

BUT, I've also had the joy of returning to the East Coast to visit a friend, after living in CA for over 10 years. The smell of the Atlantic was different than the Pacific, and evoked "home" for me. Lacking the "smell lexicon" from the article, I couldn't describe the difference, but it was very clear to me. 

I had similar experiences returning to Korea after leaving at age 6. Smells I had not encountered for almost 2 decades smelled of childhood to me.  I blogged a while back about the persimmon taste memory.  The smells were more elusive during my trip.  I would walk down a block, and a smell that was totally familiar would sneak up on me, but attempts to trace it (is it that plant?  Did we pass a restaurant?) were usually fruitless.  Some melange of the chemical, household cleaners, maybe b.o., no doubt the difference in diet all played a part.  (OK, fire off the kimchee jokes now!)


  1. In our marriage it is the other way around. Craig is the "sensitive" one. He hates perfume and air fresherner. He didn't like the smell of roasted garlic, so I don't make it. When I cook in the RV I have to turn on every vent fan (3) in the rig. I've gotten used to it, but sometimes think he is picky.

  2. I miss the smell of Korea too- it's a part of my childhood that left a deep sense of void and aching in my heart. Good to connect with another Korean blogger. Hope you check out my blog too.

  3. The joy I feel knowing you're still here. The smell is reminiscent of times passed.

  4. Glad to see you too, Patois! Midlife crisis aside, I'm working on making more time for me this year.


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