Prepare yourselves. Steel your sarcasm and keep your eye-rolling at bay. For I am about to impart a piece of wisdom as cliched – and generally absurd – as a pregnant woman’s waters breaking dramatically on the street at the climax of a movie. Friends, sometimes it really is the smallest things in life that bring the greatest joy. Cliched, yes but also true.
I’ve been taking time this week to literally smell the roses. Literally. As in bending over in my neighbours’ front yard, checking briefly that nobody is watching, before burying my head in the flower bush. Sure, I could use my own garden but then I’d be smelling neglected parsley or dead daffodils which don’t quite have the scent I’m chasing.
I have a new penchant for walking into bakeries without buying a thing, sniffing fruit at the supermarket with glee, and even savouring the moment of opening fresh gum. It’s been 18 months since I had the ability to smell properly. An operation, followed by a broken nose, stole my functional snoz as well as it’s aesthetics but this week? I’m finally bandaged and back. Or at least partially.
Being overwhelmed by smells (good and bad, mind you) has been revelatory. A reminder of the little bits and pieces that make up a life, which pass us by all too often… I remember an occasion when my son was five months old, I was carrying him down a tree-lined street. A gust of wind swept through the narrow space, creating a tunnel, and almost tipping us over. He threw his little head back and giggled with glee, having never before felt the wind on his face. I couldn’t recall the last time I’d laughed at the weather.
“One of those small things returned for me this week and it’s like trying it for the first time once more.”
The first time I tried bacon at a sleepover with friends, I rushed home to my parents determined that we eat this deliciousness at every meal henceforth. My father, who was brought up rather strictly Muslim, smiled and agreed we should definitely give it a go. The first time I served an ace at tennis camp will never leave me. The flow of the racquet through the air, the sense of connection with the ball and smug knowledge of exactly where it would land.
My husband relishes the sensation of cracking his knuckles and tying a bow tie properly, getting the edges just-so. My father-in-law takes pride in a leafless backyard pool but also jumps up excitedly when a handful flutter onto the surface. My friend Pip makes the same brownie recipe on repeat, late into the night, carving them into small bite-size pieces. My sister watched the same dodgy recording of a Gilbert and Sullivan opera on repeat as a child because of the comfort it brought. Today, she’s upgraded to episodes of Ru Paul’s Drag Race.
Do you recall the first time you learned that the voices of Mickey and Minnie Mouse were married in real life? (If you’re only doing so now then I know, right!) Or how about the fact a group of pink flamingos is called a ‘flamboyance’? Do you enjoy a perfectly folded fitted sheet? Or take a moment to wait for silence before popping a brand-new packet of Pringles? Is there someone on television or radio whose voice is smooth as velvet, such that you couldn’t care less what they’re actually talking about?
One of those small things returned for me this week and it’s like trying it for the first time once more. Smells are returning, seeping with memory and magic. Food tastes better and the air is indeed sweet. I know what the poets mean now. I may have before – but the reminder almost makes the whole broken nose and operation bit worth it. Now, I am waiting only for the moment this damn bandage comes off. There’s an itch that needs scratching. Badly.
It’s the small things, you see.
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