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Sunday, January 20, 2013

A Strange Sense-sation

I know exactly what it smells like. I can't describe it, but when I smell it, I know it's real. Strange, isn't it, that for me, the strongest sense is the sense of smell? That is how I remember places, countries, homes, moments in time. I smell curry and turmeric and cumin and I'm back in my Granny's kitchen watching her stir the bryani. I smell rotting leaves and damp earth and I'm walking in the forest with my Oma and Opa. I smell freshly cut grass and wet soil and I'm playing on the lawn in Lebanon with my friends. I smell kebabs and roasted corn on the cob and I'm on the street in Egypt.

These smells, and so many more, are stored deep down inside my memory bank. Unlike other memories that may be tied to specific triggers, I don't remember these memories often. They only surface when the specific scent accompanies them.

There will be moments when I'll be in the midst of conversation and I will suddenly stop and stare off into the distance. I'll be trying to remember, to place a connection between the senses and reality. All too often the memories will be too hazy to create a complete picture. I know I was someone else before this life of the past 14 years happened, but I seem unable to brush away enough of those years to see who I was then. I keep trying, though.

. . .I went through the buffet line holding my dinner plate, carefully placing well-loved favourites on my plate. There was the tabbouleh, the fatoosh salad, the hummous and the baba ganough, the potatoes, the moussaka, and the basbousa. It had been 13 years since I had tasted these foods, and as I sat down at the table and lifted my fork to take the first bite, I breathed deep and the aromas brought back a thousand memories to mind. And for a moment, as the tears came to my eyes, I remembered who I was. I was loved.

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