Ah, smell. When you feel bland and dull and tired, smell is the best sense for activating your dormant creativity. You don’t even have to write about smells you like – any smell will wake you up. Here’s something I wrote about one of my most hated smells: gasoline. It took me to surprising places.
The smell of gasoline is too sweet, a sick sweet that hurts my throat and lingers in my nose, as if it were made of tiny nails that scratch the tender mucosa of my nasal passages. Gasoline is hard not to smell when filling your gas tank, because I don’t care what they say, those pumps are not pressure closed; the smell escapes and I can almost hear gagging sounds from the poor birds who have to fly through the poisoned air, that smell making their feathers turn lime green at the roots.
I have a long ago memory of running out of gas and my then-boyfriend had to walk to the nearest gas station to bring back a can of gas to get the car started again. Afterwards he put the can, still partially filled, and the slosh slosh of the leftover gasoline at the bottom of the can made me feel seasick. My feet felt like they were bathed in gasoline, although they weren’t, and all I wanted to do was vomit out the window. I think the taste and smell of vomit would have been better than gasoline, but I didn’t vomit because I was young then and didn’t want to vomit in front of my boyfriend; I was afraid it would ruin my sexy image.
He smelled like gasoline too, his hands were saturated with it, and whatever he touched became tainted. I didn’t want him to touch me until he washed, but again I was young and didn’t know how to tell him without hurting his feelings. I was rather co-dependent then, a label I only learned to hang on myself later, but at the time I thought it was one of my jobs to always comfort his ego, even at the cost of gasoline-tainted skin.
Now I’m not even sure what his name was. Truthfully, I can’t even remember which boyfriend this was – I had many back then. I thought I was searching for the “right one” but actually I was searching for the real me, which at that time I hadn’t the courage or wisdom to recognize.