The sun is smiling as its rays of warmth stretch out and cover my entire body while I lay as one with the freshly cut grass. The scent of clean, crisp grass fills my nostrils. It smells like the fresh vegetables my mom cuts from her garden and washes in the sink. As she washes, all the dirt escapes from the outer skin setting free the crisp, natural aroma. My pores begin to perspirate, for the warm rays take no prisoners. The wet droplets trickle down my face as if racing one another to see which one can cross the finish line first without being absorbed into my lips and trapped in the many curves of my face. The cool breeze is my savior as it dries my body and tosses my wavy blonde hair. I inhale only to be filled with the aroma of hamburgers being cooked on the grill. It smells smoky and rough, almost chokingly thick but at the same time it smells juicy and mouth-watering as the scent of hamburgers take over. As I lay there enjoying the summer heat, my eardrums suddenly ring with the sound of falling pill bottles crashing to the wood floor inside the house.
We still ache fiercely with love, lust, loyalty, and passion. And we still perceive the world, in all its gushing beauty and terror, right on our pulses. There is no other way. To begin to understand the gorgeous fever that is consciousness, we must try to understand the senses. (Ackerman xix)
My legs shake as I stand in the kitchen staring at my mom. Tears start knocking down the wall as I get tired of trying to hold it up, they start escaping, conquering my face and making my breaths uneven. My eyes are blurry and my world is spinning on a fast carousel and I can’t get off. As I try to breathe through my nose, I can smell the salty, bitter aroma of my tears. As I try again, the scent of the cookout and the grass are gone; all I can smell is the burning bread in the oven, it smells like death as the smoky cloud makes it hard to breath. The harsh, toxic aroma makes me lose my breath for a few seconds. My mom tries to talk but can only form her mouth to make moaning, painful sounds. Soon she can’t move and collapses onto the nearby wall. She loses control of her facial muscles as well as the rest of her body. All I can do is stand there and cry. Let me off this ride.
Breaths come in pairs, except at two times in our lives- the beginning and the end. At birth, we inhale for the first time; at death, we exhale for the last. (Ackerman 6)
It came to me then as I waited in the so called ‘waiting room’ that it can happen to me. I’m here. I thought I would never have to step foot in this calm but chaotic building. It reeks of cleaning products and plastic. It smells as if I had just walked into a room full of plastic containers and 409 bottles. As I looked around, all eyes were on the ground. The door opens and my legs are shaking as I search for the strength to take another step. As I see her laying there helpless, I feel the tears fighting one another to see who would be first to be born in my eyes and to soon die on my cheeks. There is no comfort as we wait for news, only the feeling of the spinning carousel makes me feel human for I had been stuck on the elaborate, ceramic horse since the smell of burnt bread entered my nostrils. No one knows what’s wrong with her, at least that’s what they tell me, but the doctors know. My parents know. My sisters know. Just tell me so I can stop spinning.
Smells spur memories, but they also rouse our dozy senses, pamper and indulge us, help define our self-image, stir the cauldron of our seductiveness, warn us of danger, lead us into temptation, fan our religious fervor, accompany us to heaven, wed us to fashion, steep us in luxury. (Ackerman 37)
Content : l
Time. It’s the air I breathe, the sun that’s setting, the controller of life. Time decides when and if I will change, grow, or even live. Today, time is on my side. Today, time is on her side. Two years I have spent spinning. Two years speeding up and slowing down, not willing to leave this carousel where I feel at home. As I walk into my kitchen like every day before, I am not haunted by the scent of death burning in the oven. As I inhale deeper in search of the scent of burnt bread again, I am only filled with the sweet aroma of buttery biscuits growing and baking in that same oven, the creator of the horrible memories of that life changing, summer afternoon. Right as the home cooked aroma fills my nose, It seems to trickle down my body, warming every bone, muscle, and inch of my pale skin. The paleness of my skin retreats only to be replaced by the beautiful, sun-kissed color. I see my mom’s lips move, forming words of truth, words that explain what’s wrong. The answer to my long awaited question is reveled, and suddenly I stop. My body feels at peace, at rest. The ceramic horses have stopped their repetition. Time is cruel, but today, time is on my side. My legs are shaking as I find the strength to step off, to leave what I’m used to. It’s déjà vu as I step off the carousel and into my mother’s hospital room but this time, it’s ok. She’s ok. It’s not too late, all I have is time.
What is most amazing is not how our senses span distance or cultures, but how they span time. Our senses connect us intimately to the past, connect us in ways that most of our cherished ideas never could. (Ackerman xvi)
Ackerman, Diane. A Natural History of the Senses. New York: Vintage Books, 1990.
by Jennifer Gohn, English 101-003