Today's assignment: A Mini-Autobiography (or Memoir)
Kirsten Ogden writes: We concentrate a lot on the visual, but sometimes we completely ignore the smells and scents that often have a greater impact on reflective memories than any other of our 5 senses. When you think back on 2011, what is the story of your year through smells?
I close my eyes and the ocean rises up to meet me through the scent of salty air.
I visited the beach more frequently in 2011 than in previous years.
I smell the slight chill in the ocean air when a group of us visited Pacific Palisades after a trip to the Getty Museum.
I smell independence when we finally found a beach with an open parking space on July 4th just North of Malibu.
I smell the saltiness at my niece Brittany’s bridal shower in Oceanside: a fantastic mini-family reunion.
I smell the cool breeze carrying the ocean to me in San Diego while I wandered around one of the most memorable parks I have ever visited.
Both of these were with Katherine, before she went back to Smith College in Massachusetts.
I smell the Pacific Ocean's calming, restorative energy as I walked the headlands trail in Dana Point in the early morning, noticing how it felt to be there so close to sunrise on the day I actually experienced sunrise twice. Different perspective, different vantage points = two sunrises. How often may one say that?
I smell its memory as my children and I visited Dana Point again with my cousin, Chelle and her daughter, Jesyka, as well as my best friend, Cameron, just this past weekend. I hadn’t spent time with Chelle in years. We had never spent time with just the two of us, we had always been surrounded by other family. It was such fun to watch Jesyka and Samuel play together: they are cousins only two months apart who were meeting for the first time. She lives in Dallas. This was her first trip to California.
The most intense sensory experience, though, was when I was in Amherst, Massachusetts in October.
I had been writing in Emily Dickinson’s backyard and decided to walk along the path she walked when going to visit her brother’s home which is on the same property.
Here is what I wrote in my blog:
I stepped into the woods and imagined these trees without cars whizzing past. I took another step and thought about the different decades these trees have seen. I took a third step and found myself in different zone entirely.
I was greeted by the scent of something I knew somehow, coming up from the ground via my footsteps. It was an ancient reunion, as if the past was rising to envelop me.
It was autumn’s breath, making herself felt as she wrapped me in her quilt of life, well lived. Life, lived deliberately. The leaves who gave themselves up because that is simply what they do each Autumn: yellow, brown, wet and waiting only to decompose. The scent of Autumn’s breath told me, wordlessly, all I needed to know and more.
Tears filled my eyes.
How could I express this to anyone? How could I explain being sent off into another world because I was curious about how these woods felt, what it might have been like for Emily to step into these woods?
I knew she would understand without me needing to say anything.
I imagined looking at her eyes with tears in mine, wordlessly stopping for a moment just to drink the wonder into our lungs.
You may read this particular blog post in its entirety by clicking here:
What a powerful prompt from Kirsten at Reverie11. I wasn’t expecting this mini-memoir to be so evocative for me. I trust (and hope!) there was some meaning in these words for you as well.
I am Julie Jordan Scott ~ and this is one of my Reverb11 posts. This year, the Reverb Community is taking an individualized approach to this life changing initiative. I am answering several prompts a day in short snippets during either a 30 minute or 60 minute wordsprint. I look forward to reading other Reverb11ers writing & if you are unfamiliar, just use the prompt and use the #reverb11 hashtag on twitter. You'll have a blast!
Follow me on Twitter: @JulieJordanScot
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Julie Jordan Scott