Association

16 03 2007

I’m listening to Kruder & Dorfmeister’s DJ Kicks album. I wrote my thesis to this album. When I hear it I am immediately transported to that little study, the naked lightbulb bright in the cold air, casting strange shadows on the cracked walls. Me at my disintegrating Clint’s Crazy Bargain desk, piles of papers and books, tapping away at the word count while the house slept around me.

A woman walked past me today trailing White Musk. When I was little, that scent and my mother were inextricably linked in my head. Twenty years later, I smell it and am comforted, even though my mother doesn’t use White Musk anymore.

I have a bad memory for events. A good memory for things (Citric Acid Cycle, anyone?), but when people are reminiscing it can take a while for my mental cinema to catch up. I store my memories in frozen instants, impressions, sounds, smells. I listen, picking up links to unlock the flow of images.

Remember that trip to the beach in spring 2003?

Blank. I have no point of reference.

When we stayed at the beach house?

Something. A murmur.

The one where you lit all the mozzie coils?

There it is, flickering, strobed. The smell of mosquito coils, wedged in wine bottles, doing nothing to stop me getting bitten but choking Miff in her sleep. Drunk and dancing on the balcony at the top of the cliff. The long row of miniature toiletries in the bathroom, courtesy of an uncle who travels for business. The high roof and Seachange feel of the place. The goat track down the cliff to the beach, where we made sandcastles and I avoided the ocean. Quince paste. Sunburn. Bunk beds.

Some smells or sounds have such strong associations they never fail to raise an image. It’s often the oddest things. Car exhaust on a winter’s day and I am in Tokyo, riding home from school, skirt illegally rolled up to mid-thigh despite the goosebumps, scarf tied just so and schoolbag in the bike basket. Rain on a hot road and it’s the Wet season and my brother and I are building forts from the windowscreens and having a war with jackfruit seeds as ammunition.

Those are some of mine. What are yours?

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7 responses

16 03 2007
lan

Yes I do remember that beach trip. The dancing on the balcony is the bit that stands out, although I also remember quince paste and haikus in the log. And the sunburn. Oh the sunburn. Good times though.

16 03 2007
GigPig

I remember our excellent, if somewhat eccentric, sand castle.

16 03 2007
Miff

I still can’t bring myself to light mozzie coils. It brings back memories of me not being able to breathe. Don’t forget the entire jar of pickled onions that we ate too.Yeah, good times.

16 03 2007
Miff

The smell of Yves Saint Laurent perfume Opium reminds me of my mum.Smell of Polo Sport reminds me of hubby. Mmmm, hubby-a-licious.Smell of B.O. reminds me of my little brother. Boys totally smell.

16 03 2007
audrey

I am a smell person too. Just a whiff of something (usually perfumes) can take me back to inexplicable events in my life. My mother’s perfume, and we’re sitting on the house steps getting me ready to go to a friend’s house for a play date even though I don’t feel well. Allure and Chance take me straight to Japan and parties on rooftops. Woodsmoke and rain always makes me think of studying for my year 12 exams in the country.

17 03 2007
Sherd

I’d completely forgotten the haikus in the log! I’m sure they were incredibly funny and witty though. see, I’ve pretty much forgotten the details of the sandcastle. And I’d totally forgotten the pickled onions. Now that’s a holiday!Oh, Audrey, woodsmoke! I love the smell of woodsmoke. It makes me think of my family and our trek around Oz when I was a wee thing.

18 03 2007
Saturday Night Fiver

I have a very sensitive sense of smell, so much so that I’d be hesitant to say, for example, “smell of woodsmoke” because there is such a variety of smells that come from burning different types of wood (incidentally, the best smell comes from burning Gidgee, an Acacia).The smell of dew on the grass (blue couch) on a cool May morning reminds me of walking up to my Primary School, which conjures up the aroma of fraying carpet, chalk dust, Clag glue, a mixture of chlorine, talcum powder and latex, brown paper, the indefinable smell of worn hardwood floorboards, and the decaying contents of lunchboxes. Among many others.

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