But I cannot hold onto the smells. The basement’s dankness. The musty cedar fragrance of my uncle’s old bedroom. The layers of soap in the bathrooms.
This is my deepest grief about the Louisville house. That when it is sold, I will never again close my eyes and inhale the mixture of fall leaves and motor oil that hung over the driveway or the combination of mulch and roses that exuded from Poppa’s gardens.
But then, with no one living in it these last four years, the place has fallen into disrepair. Even long after it was fixed, a refrigerator breakdown robbed two rooms of their aromas. We had to work to restore them, sitting around the dining room table telling my grandparents’ stories, raising the dead the only way we knew how until the whole house had the right odor again. But I’m sure the stale air returned with our departure.
I’ve been home two weeks. Though I know this is the right thing, to let strangers bring their own fragrances to that place, it is hard.
But some days, I am granted a moment of perfect sensory wholeness. This afternoon, when I came in from failing to mow, the kitchen was redolent with rosemary, red wine, and chicken. It was the precise bouquet that always greeted me when I walked in Mummum and Poppa’s back door, though I never knew them to them make this particular dish. I held my breath, trying not to waste those precious moments before my nose adjusted to the scent.
I wanted to breathe it in forever, because it smelled like a thing lost. It smelled like my grandfather’s kitchen. It smelled like home.
Jessie Powell is the Jester Queen. She likes to tell you about her dog, her kids, her fiction, and her blog, but not necessarily in that order.