Friday, December 29, 2006

Shoe Polish on the Basement Shelf

"Smell is a potent wizard that transports you across thousand of miles and all the years you have lived."
-Helen Keller (1880 - 1968)

The last two days have been filled with painting and some errands but there were also two trips down memory lane for me. Both memories were triggered by scent, making me wonder and appreciate the link between scent and memory. Both scents took me back to Sunday mornings and getting ready for church with my family.

One of the items that I have in my office is an old bottle of Alexander Julian "Colours" cologne of my father's that he used to liberally apply during his Sunday morning ritual. There are definitely other cologne and aftershave scents that would spark memories just as emotional, like Brut by Faberge, which would creep down the hallway with surprising intensity. To this day, I cannot imagine applying that much aftershave to my face after shaving. Those were different times. This particular bottle of cologne just happens to be the one that I took with me to Louisiana. It was a random item of my father's, salvaged when my mother was selling and packing up the house where we grew up. I don't do this very often, but there have been a few moments (yesterday being one of them) over the last years where I unscrew that cap and let that scent take me back to that Sunday morning church ritual. I most certainly never actually use any of that cologne.

This evening, after making our way back from several stores to return Christmas gifts (don't worry, not yours), I decided my black shoes were looking a little worn and tired. This led to the first time I have polished a pair of shoes in easily about 10 years, probably more. The smell of shoe polish was the second scent that took me back to Sunday mornings. Beyond the application of aftershave and cologne, another part of the church preparation routine was the requirement that we all polish our shoes. In addition to spiffing up our own shoes, it was not unheard of for us to spend some quality time with our father's shoes. I used to hate going to the steps that fed the basement and fetching the shoe polish box from the shelf in that dark hallway. I used to hate the act of polishing shoes even more. But tonight, it was pleasant and reminded me of all of those small fragments that would otherwise remain buried, hidden, and never recalled.


SINEDDIE said...

That's a nice blog my friend.
You are still the best writter I know.
I was instantly reminded of the stairwell to the basement.
With all the names of the movies that W.L had watched.

wilablog said...

Thanks for the compliment SE. I had forgotten the movie list on that stairwell - thanks for the added detail.