Of all of the trinkets I will post this year, this will probably be the most exemplary; not because of a specific memory behind it, or even what it actually is, but because of why I kept it. Oliver Wendall Holmes says that through smell, more than any other sense, we can reach memories, imagination, old sentiments, and associations more readily. I keep my empty cologne bottles not necessarily to remember the actual events that occurred during the time in my life that I wore it, but what I was feeling and thinking during that time. As for this particular cologne, it’s like scrolling down my emotional Facebook Timeline to 2003 through 2008 and feeling some of those emotions, but all at once; like waking up from a dream–but a really angsty dream. Yeesh. Growing up is hard, but seeing the alternative makes it easier.

It actually smells a lot like my dad, but I don’t know if that’s because he might wear a similar cologne now, or because maybe he used to wear this and that’s where I got the idea back then to get it in the first place. Either way, he’s the only tangible, visible thing that comes to mind when I smell it. But moving away from the tangible, there’s a lot of anxiety in this smell. My hands sweat when I smell it. If you’ve been following this blog you know that I have very sweaty hands in general, but when I smell this empty bottle they sweat a lot more, and I think it’s tied to the anxiety I sense. Thinking about it now, I remember that I only wore it for special occasions like dances, weddings, dates, and the first day of the school year–all of the times when I was worried about making a good impression. It’s all becoming very clear.

I don’t wear cologne anymore because I think my deodorant smells plenty good (sorry if that grosses you out), but pulling this emotional time machine out of the drawer might’ve changed my mind. I like the idea of seeing where I was and knowing how far I’ve come, but I will only get some more if I wear it a lot, and not just on special occasions, because I don’t want the same thing to happen ten years down the road; Future Me pulls this empty cologne bottle out of my future junk drawer, opens the cap, smells it, and suddenly gets all nervous, but can’t really figure out why, so he sits down to his mind uplink–which will replace computers in the future, they’ll just be like second brains–and starts thinking about why smelling the cologne he used to wear makes him anxious, only to realize that I (current me) only wore that cologne to job interviews and funerals. Yeah, that would be totally lame, so I’ll only get some if I wear it on regular old, do-nothing days, too.



~ by russell jander on January 11, 2012.

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