I had lived away from Seattle, my childhood home, for less than a year when I walked into a department store in a big Midwestern city. I was heading for women’s clothing on the second floor when I thought I heard someone call my name. I was in a hurry, but I stopped, and looked around. I was very puzzled because I was sure no one knew me in that city – certainly not well enough to call my name out in a public place. And yet, the voice was one I recognized somehow. I surveyed the area quickly to see if anyone looked familiar, then, feeling rather foolish and confused, I continued on my errand.
I finished my business and left the store following the same path by which I had come, rushing down the escalator and through the store aisles – I had a bus to catch and couldn’t be late. Once again I thought I heard someone call my name. Amazing! Now I had to find this person who knew me, even if I missed the bus. I took time to look through that area of the store, making eye contact with several of the sales people, searching for…who? Looking around with attention, I realized I was in the perfume department, where I didn’t see any ONE I knew, but where I spotted some THING I knew – the perfume Chanel #5. This was the fragrance my Aunt Lillian always wore, and I realized it was this fragrance that was ‘calling my name’ as I came through the store. I was stunned.
It was then that I learned the power of scent, which has a voice of its own, one so strong that it can make you ‘hear’ words and stop you in your busy tracks to look for someone you know and love.
Have you ever had an experience with a scent that has surprised you? Knowing that scent can have such a strong effect, what might you do to employ its power? Aunt Lillian had what some fashionistas call a ‘signature scent’. Do you have one?
As a first grader at St John’s Elementary School, I remember clearly how impressed I was by the speed and sound of hundreds of kids as they came thundering down the stairs at the end of the day. The metal edging on the steps clanged as students’ shoes met the stairs, drowning out Sr. Mary Davidica’s warning of “NO Running!” Scores of bodies whizzed by me in a blur, and before you could say “saddle shoes”, the school was empty and quiet.
It was my older sister Margie I was waiting for outside my first grade classroom; she was going to pick me up and walk home with me. Our school didn’t have buses to transport kids – we all had to walk, whether our homes were near or far; ours was far. There were 10 city blocks between home and St John’s, with a very large intersection across a busy highway at about the halfway point. At 5 years old I had not yet been granted permission to cross 4 lanes of busy city traffic, even with a light, by myself. Margie, at 7 years old, was my guide and protector, at least at the beginning of the first grade year.
Margie was my hero all of my life in Seattle. She had red hair and freckles, was very smart, could play the piano and sang beautifully. We shared a bedroom, a small doll collection, and short tempers. As sisters we fought constantly, and drove my Mom crazy. But as friends, we were shirt-and-pants, doing virtually everything together until Margie left St John’s for highschool.
Still, there were plenty of years before she went on to highschool for sibling rivalry to reign supreme. But that is another blog post.