I have a wonky memory. I have purchased many novels, and have read twenty or thirty pages in only to realize that I had read the book before. I forget character’s names and movie titles and basically every plot point. My lack of memory goes for my own life as well as the stories I consume, so when I read that this week’s theme was childhood memories, I felt at a loss for what to write. But while I don’t remember many stories, I do have a keen sensory memory. I can conjure smells and sounds, tastes and feelings from earliest childhood. Here are some of my favorites:
Growing up, our backyard was defined by a wall of tall lilac bushes. In the spring I would lay down in the damp grass, close my eyes, and just breathe in their sweet scent.
Every summer my father would pitch a tent in the backyard, and I would fill it with Barbie dolls. The tent was made of red nylon, and smelled of mold and the sun-warmed plastic of Barbie bodies.
There was giant, house-sized piece of granite next to my grandmother’s house that was covered in pine trees. I spent my whole summers on that rock, building houses out of sap-sticky branches and napped on prickly beds made of dried pine needles.
My grandfather used to grow peas, and I remember the green scent of the shells, and the satisfying snap of the shell popping open in my fingers.
My dad grew up in the 50’s. He was a greaser-type of tough who worked on cars, and grew up to drive a truck, but he was always fastidious about how he looked. His pants were never wrinkled. He wore these wonderfully soft chamois shirts that were always clean. And he had a wonderful dad smell to him—Right Guard and Speedstick deodorants, some sort of hair tonic, coffee and cigarettes. This was the scent of home for me.
The crackle of butter melting in a small enamel pot, and the toasty scent of popcorn kernels in hot oil, over a gas flame.
The metallic taste of chocolate ice cream served in little silver bowls at Cabot’s ice cream on special occasions.
Sitting on the little back porch in the early morning on a white-painted rod iron chair, listening to the mourning doves call as they built their nests.
The smell of newsprint, and the dry way the paper of the funny pages felt under my fingertips.
What are your favorite sensory memories from childhood?