Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Insomnia...We Meet Again

Well dear reader, you have finally found me here again. The reason? A wee bit of insomnia. When I was in high school I went entire weeks without sleeping more than a few, dream-filled hours a night. In college, I never really slept much. For years after, as I entered the work force and took jobs that drained me of all my energy, I slept like a rock.

...Now I sit at a desk all day, and my old friend Insomnia has returned. Last night it was dreams. Crazy dreams. Dreams involving the kidnapping of certain friends, and my inability to find them. Tonight, it is sleeplessness all together. I am hoping this will exhaust my brain a bit, so when I sleep, I will not dream. Unless the girls get kidnapped again....then I suppose dream hero me will have to step up.

Anyway, this post should not be about dreaming....what to discuss......

I have it!

Smell association. You know how when you hear a song it can take you back to a set place and time? The same, at least for me, works with smells.

Last week, it was just about to rain, and was slightly humid outside. The air was thick, and held the damp, restless smell of a coming storm. I stepped out of the office, and when the first breeze hit me I was suddenly back in 9th grade at Worlds of Fun. That day I took two of my friends with me to enjoy the park. One a girl I liked, the other a good guy friend. The whole park smelled like a storm was coming, because it was. I remember that the day ended with the guy and the girl I brought dating....the coming storm was more than just weather :)

The other day I was throwing something away in a public trashcan, and I caught a whiff of Grizzly Chewing Tobacco. How do I know what that smells like? It was what my grandfather chewed. The minty, sickly smell immediately took me to when I was 14, riding in his painting van, learning how to paint. We were riding along in silence, I believe he thought I needed to learn to be still and listen to life. With that simple olfactory stimulation I felt as though I was physically in that old van again. And my heart broke a little when broke free of that and came back to the real world.

And then there was tonight when I went in to my parent's basement. My father is a printer, and he was running his press. The chemicals used in this process are strong, their odor filled the basement. And upon entering the basement my nose took me back to the printing office he once had in a church, where he worked my entire childhood. That was a wonderful place. The shelves all had things to play with, like airplanes and cars. Outside of his office sat the pop machine, which he had the key to, and on special occasions, we could "sneak" in and get one..always orange. I love orange. He had a drafting table set up to do his layouts on, and we would sit on stools, taking exacto knives and cutting into the rubbery surface, the only time we were allowed to fulfill such destructive impulses. I can describe what the room looked like, all the trinkets, including an ash tray I made for him (he did not smoke) and a real taxidermied piranha I bought him for Father's Day one year (because who does not want one of those). But it is the smell of the ink that brings me back to that place in my heart.

There are many, many other scents that will trigger my memory, but, luck for you, this exercise has done its job. I am now off to try once again to sleep. If you made it this far, you are thanked for putting up with my late night ramblings. Hopefully my next post will be of some more substance.