Wednesday, April 29, 2015


Four years ago, I was in my first semester of an MA program. In the late afternoons, I'd sit outside on the patio and do my readings while the girls played in the lane. At that time of night, at that time of year, the still-warm air always smelled like bougainvillea. I didn't realize it at the time, but I formed strong associations between the smell of those flowers and the feeling of having moved somewhere new and started an MA and entered a busy and exciting phase of life. I'm sure I've smelled those flowers before and since, but my brain has tied the scent very particularly to that phase of my life.

And still sometimes when the season changes just so, and the sun sets in the sky just so, and I'm coming home from work, steering my bike around the girls playing in the lane and greeting Sterling with a reciprocal "hi Mama," I catch another whiff of that bougainvillea smell and it brings me right back to my patio four years ago. Textbook open on my lap. Looking up every few paragraphs to check on the little ones. Wondering if I could really do this.

I don't have a lovely ending for this post. It's just a moment I've been experiencing recently as bougainvillea season has begun. It's amazing the things we can accomplish when we work hard. But wouldn't it be nice to sometimes know the ending when we're still at the beginning? If me on the patio doing my readings could see me coming home from work, MA done and dusted?


Jen and Joe. said...

Olfactory memories are fascinating to me. And your bougainvillea is STUNNING.

Suzanne Bubnash said...

Jeremy has done a lovely job in your yard, and bougainvillea is beautiful. No matter where you see it, it will always put you back to that time and place.

Speaking of the power of scent, yesterday I caught a whiff of a certain dish detergent and I was right back in your kitchen in Amman Jordan.

Crys said...

Wow, I wish I had beautiful flowers to smell. My ornamental pear tree is in full bloom right now and smells like bad fish...not nearly so lovely ;)

Bridget said...

That image is not our bougainvillea, but I will also say "thanks!" because our bougainvillea actually looks exactly like that. When I googled the image, I actually thought it was one of my own photos that Google was showing me. Maybe it is...?


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