Day 1 & 2
The first thought of a smell memory that comes to mind is my mother making no-bake cookies. Oatmeal, chocolate, and butter (I think) heated in a pan gave off the best aroma. Maybe I’m exaggerating the smell, I can’t say for sure because I loved the cookies—still do—and I can remember coming home from school and eating as many as she would let me while drinking a glass of milk and watching the afternoon cartoons. Those times with my cookies, milk, and cartoons—with my younger brother—were like stepping into a perfect calm. Life couldn’t get better than that, at that moment. My brother and I would watch He-Man, GI Joe, The Smurfs, and my favorite, Scooby-Do. That cartoon was mesmerizing. Scooby and the gang always had a mystery to solve, and I learned that moss always grows on the south side of a tree from one episode—information that I would never forget as I got older and started camping and hiking.
Another ‘smell’ memory would most definitely be freshly cut grass. Every spring I’m reminded of how happy, carefree, and optimistic my childhood was. I often wonder how I ended up, psychologically speaking, the way I did. Of course, I have a few ideas on how that happened but that’s whole other story. Anyway, back to that freshly cut grass and the power it has over my mood when I first get a whiff of it. A smile instantly crosses my lips and for just a moment, I’m encased in the overwhelming feeling of comfort and peace. Why don’t they make an air freshener that smells like cut grass? I bet I could make a killing off something like that because I doubt I’m the only one who has this reaction this particular scent. I can picture it now, my dad out mowing the lawn, my mom out tending to the flowers, and me in my bedroom with the window open—just a screen separating me from the outside—playing happily on a Saturday afternoon. No school, no worries, and all the time in the world to explore my imagination. Those were good days indeed. My imagination seemed much stronger then, or maybe I was just willing to let myself get lost in my imagination a little more than I allow myself these days. I should look into that thought—try to figure out which is which.
Now here’s a smell from my years that brings back memories of rebellion, self-awareness, and butting heads with ideas that I never questioned before—marijuana. I think I was 17 or 18 when I first smoked with my friends at the time—Brad, Kim, Jennifer, Ilze, and Lynette. In fact, I think we were all in James’ old boat of a car and we just pulled into a neighborhood off North Washington Street at night, turned the car off, and passed a joint around. I remember having no fear of getting caught—if I tried that today I would be so paranoid I’d probably pass out—I also remember that I couldn’t tell if I was high or not. Some people say that you won’t get high the first time. After the joint was finished, we went to the 7/11 and I recall just sitting in the back seat talking to the girls and saying that I didn’t feel any different. However, when I smell that smoke these days I get a mixture of feelings. Everything from walking through the gates of creativity and freedom, to paranoia and sadness seem to cross my mind simultaneously. Paranoia because of the legal ramifications, sadness because it reminds me of a time when fell in love for the first time, creativity because my mind became so open to new ideas and connections, and freedom because I felt like I was slapping the establishment in the face (doing something that was illegal and getting away with it). I had some good times while I was high with my friends and girlfriend. The world seemed like it was in surround sound, Technicolor, and my sense of taste was magnified 10 fold. In fact all my senses were heightened—my experiences were supercharged. I must admit I kind of miss that feeling—I still experience every now and then—but being able to induce that state of mind when you want to is a nice thought. Of course, I can’t talk about marijuana without bringing up LSD. Man, did I have some interesting times with that. I still think LSD is the key to understanding life in general. My mind would become so open to any idea and I would follow that idea down every road it led me until a new thought would catch my attention—it’s the closest I think I’ve ever come to knowing what it would be like to be a Buddhist Monk in the depths of meditation. I think I should try it at least once more before I die. All this leads to the dreaded use of alcohol, which started out terribly—puking, hangover, and a complete feeling of ‘shit’. Nevertheless, this is the one drug that I used and abused the most (probably because it’s legal and easy to obtain). But I will admit to having a sense of peace and calmness when I drink the right amount. I like my personality when I’m drunk. I’m happy, I love everyone and everything, and I’m sociable—pretty much the opposite of sober me.
Let’s see, what is another scent that brings back memories or induces a feeling or emotion? A campfire has always made me feel at peace with the world and my station within it. There isn’t one memory, per say, that jumps out, it’s more of an accumulation of years growing up camping, fishing, and backyard fun with my family. All memories that come from my childhood seem to point in the happy direction—which makes sense, I had a good childhood with awesome parents. I don’t exactly know what happened along the way that turned me into the depressed/ anxiety ridden person that sits here typing this. I’m sure it is a combination of events and decisions that put me here.
The smell of a certain type of Victoria Secret perfume—exact name unknown—will forever remind me of love and heartbreak, the person being Barri of course. She was my second and last love. The heartbreak stands out the most, probably because it happened last. Looking back I should have known the relationship was doomed from the start. She was cheating on her husband while we fell in love—man, am I stupid or what. The good times were most definitely good. She made me feel like I belonged in the world. I was still drinking heavily at the time, which should have been another indicator that I was still too caught up in myself to be in a relationship, but the sex was the best sex I have ever had—basic human needs ruled that relationship. Carnal knowledge, depending on your emotional status, crushes any common sense one might have at a particular point in time. Did she leave me because I joined the Army and wasn’t around, because of drinking, because I did not want children, or because that was just her way—jumping around from guy to guy (I’m trying to refrain from saying whore). But one thing was for certain, I would have never completely trusted her given the way our relationship started out. That reason alone could have led to the eventual demise—especially sense I voiced that fact to her. This topic is an endless pit of emotions that I will surely come back to, but for now, I’m moving on.
I guess another smell memory would be sawdust. It always reminds me of my dad and his talent at woodworking. I think I get half of my artistic inclinations from his woodworking and the other half from my mom’s sewing talent. Sawdust reminds me of creativity and how important to my emotional health it is. Without creativity, or the desire to plunge myself into the process and excitement of creativity, I don’t know what I would with my time. I’ve spent many of hours creating music, lyrics, stories, photographs, drawings, and other forms of art. It’s nice to lose yourself in the realm of creativity—if for no other reason than to forget about everyday life for a while. Escapism, there’s a theme that runs constantly through my life, beginning in my early teenage years. ‘Normal’ life seems so boring to me. The mundane aspects of life such as raising a family, working the 9 to 5 job, making a lot of money, buying the big house, having the fancy car, and on and on—I would say the American Dream—but I think that is too broad a term in that it encompasses my dream. However, the big house, white picket fence, a dog, and 2.8 kids is what I think most Americans consider the ‘normal’ route of living the good life—mindless automatons blindly being led along while never truly questioning the status quo. Once I started thinking for myself—early teenage years—and began looking for the reasons behind what society mainly took as truth, I felt the power of the simple word ‘WHY’ and became a disciple of its powers to annoy, enrage, explain, and learn. As one might reasonably surmise, this all started with the ‘I know everything’ attitude of young adolescence and only grew stronger with time. I guess I was destined to become an outcast of popular opinion in my regional beliefs and eventually to the ‘standard’ American Dream. Truth and knowledge took a front seat to everything else except maybe creativity.
Give a smell to remember. What? When? Where? Who? Tell me those and I can tell you the ‘why’. OK. Let’s go with mud. The scent of wet dirt reminds me of looking for night crawlers in the ditch of our front yard. The rain had stopped and the hunting began. Digging through the wet grass/dirt to capture the largest of the worms gave me a feeling of ‘doing what needs to be done’ to enjoy the following day of fishing. Which of course, my brother and I would do with my parents. Grouse Ridge was always a good place to fish from the bank with live bait. I remember one time asking my dad if wild horses still ran around Indiana. He sort of laughed and then went into a story about how wild horses used to run the plains of America after the Spanish brought them over. There was more history in that speech but, as usual I don’t remember the exact words, only the emotion I felt while he was telling me. My five senses remember—a light breeze from my right, the clouds, sparse, moving fast across a nearly full moon, the weeds and grass mixing with the fishy smell of the water, the squirm of a bluegill, the taste of dirt in my mouth after sliding a worm onto a hook, and of course the sound of a horse neighing in the distance. That was a good night. Grouse Ridge has offered up many good fishing adventures throughout my time. Currently, Richy and I have had some very productive fishing trips out on those waters. Yet, the biggest fish I’ve ever caught was at my grandpas’ little pond. I landed so many big ‘largemouth’ bass that my left thumb actually started bleeding—because the bigger the bass the rougher its lips. There was actually a point where my line darted to the right and I pulled, trying to hook the bastard, but my line instantly snapped. Now that my friend, is a big F’n fish—or maybe just weak line.
Little time left—I miss my grandparents, all four of them.
Mt. Healthy. A brick building with a stone name plate/sign as you pulled in. a large blacktop area with basketball goals and an outline of the USA and the states painted next to the court. A fairly large playground with forts made of wood and the ‘dangerous’ beam that connected two of the forts. I remember Todd Wetherald, my cousin, pushing me off once and I climbed back up and pushed him off—of course he started crying and got in trouble.
The inside had one long hallway the stretched the entire length of the building. At one end was the kindergarten-second grade. The middle section was third and fourth grades. At the north end was grades five and six. Along the hallway were these colored pipes that ran along the ceiling. Each a different color and at varying heights—we would always jump and try to touch the different pipes as we made our way from first to sixth grade, seeing who could reach the highest pipe. I was one of the taller kids so I could reach even the highest pipe by the time I was in sixth grade.
As far as teachers go, I remember Mrs. O’Neil my science teacher and maybe math teacher as well. There was a younger dark haired teacher that taught English but her name escapes me—she was a good-looking woman. Both of them were teachers for fifth and sixth graders. My kindergarten teacher was Mrs. Leonard, I think I remember her because my parents knew her. Then there was my bus driver Mrs. Riley, who was my bus driver all through elementary, middle, and high school—always thought that was kind of strange (she lived right down the road from our house). Our principal was Mrs. Litikin, her son was on my baseball team. I can’t say why I remember those two teachers in particular, maybe because I was a little older at the time and hence the memories dug in deeper than my third and fourth grade teachers. I just remembered Mr. Fish and Mr. Ferguson. Mr. Ferguson taught geography—I remember learning the state capitals (studying with my mom, her grilling me with questions until they were committed to memory). In fact, during the day of the test, as he was writing the names of the capitals on the board I noticed he misspelled one of the names and I pointed it out to him—I got a bonus point for my effort. Probably the highlight my academic career.
Shawna and her big burger. She sat in front of me in the ‘Eagles Nest’—up-stairs. She reminded me of the Sylvia-Natalie M.-Freak Show—I wonder what she is doing these days.
Todd Wetherald. My cousin. “Do you know what the NFL stands for?” His response, “National Football League—What does AFL stand for?” My response, I gotta go (I didn’t know so I ran away)—thought I was Mr. smarty pants, I opened myself up for s brighter mind—lessened learned.
Travis Munn. Tall redhead—could hit a homerun like no other. His dad was one of our two coaches (Don). He played center field, never the infield, somewhat weird when you think about it except for the fact he had a strong arm (yet never a pitcher). He was one of the first ‘old’ friends I met on Facebook. Don’t talk with him very much—not at all—Damn me and my past (good people living their life).