Thursday, July 16, 2009

Learning to communicate

I've been having an interesting two days of olfactory hypersensitivity. This is not a bad kind of hypersensitivity, which I've experienced in the past, where everything suddenly smells terrible, but the opposite. Everything smells glorious. Last night I was intoxicated with smell. I was with a group of people, mostly in silence, and the first clue I had that something was different was that I could smell a dog come into the room before I heard her enter. I felt nearly blinded by my intense sense of smell. My other senses receded, or at least seemed to.

The dog made her rounds, sniffing everyone in the room. What I didn't know was that the dog is blind. When I found out, I was rather was rather stunned with a feeling of synchronicity. Of course, I have my sight, my hearing, my sense of touch, but my sense of smell was so strong that as I could smell myself and my surroundings at the same time so keenly (or seemingly so), it felt as if I was smell, not a self experiencing it. Aware of scent as sight, the dog served to illustrate that one can indeed see without seeing, as we normally think each sense is discreet and fixed.

Everyone I met smelled wonderful. I wanted to touch people. It was exhilarating and a bit surreal. When I spoke and listened, the words seemed strange, as if I should have lost the power of speech and hearing, too.

In the midst of this was something that was so trivial. Earlier, I had stopped into Marshall's to see if they had any great finds in the messy perfume sale section, and there was an open bottle of Armani Prive Eau de Jade that I sampled. I dismissed it out of hand and walked out of the store. A half an hour on the road later, I kept smelling my wrist. It smelled wonderful. And then, hours later, my surreal olfactory experience started.

Of course, I associated this with the Armani, but I also thought I detected a hint of the Chergui I was wearing the day before. Wanting to grasp at the experience, when the store opened this morning at 9:30am, I called to see if they still had the two bottles I saw amongst the mess. No. They had reduced the price of everything on sale at 6:00pm and the salesperson said that they only thing left was some Elizabeth Taylor stuff. I didn't want to believe him, so I called again at 3:00pm. The person asked, "Did you call this morning?" I couldn't lie, and when I said yes to the question I found out that that $175 bottle of perfume sold for ten bucks. Mind you, this perfume, which is essentially just a fairly good cologne, is not worth anything near one hundred and seventy five bucks, but I wanted it, and a bargain like that is a thrill. The lesson, for me, is both that I should not dismiss something out of hand because I have a preconception that's it's "bad" and that I shouldn't pass up a good deal that I can afford. I could always sell it on Ebay, right?

The other lesson is that nothing good comes from grasping. Not that anything untoward happened, but once again, I notice that I'm craving more than feels right, and that is not a good thing.

I'm wearing another unaffordable scent this evening, Chanel Sycomore. I hadn't tried it before. I've had it for a while, but didn't know it until I did my sample inventory a few weeks ago (or was it just last week). Earlier, it smelled heavenly, and I kept spraying more on, for I was loving the opening notes. It is as dry as a block of wood, or so I thought. As the evening has progressed, either my olfactory sensitivity has returned, or my being overheated in the sweater I'm wearing has made the scent blossom. At some point, I thought about scrubbing it off. I've got a sinus headache, but I'm not sure it's from the scent. Instead, I rubbed some lavender lotion onto my arms. That was a nice combination, but it didn't last. I then used some Weleda Skin Food, a thick hand and face cream, which has a strong natural orange scent. Again, it works very nicely with the Sycomore.

I must be craving the citrus of a good cologne (or just some citrus). The dusky and dusty scents I usually like are not fitting the bill right now, although I am enjoying everything. Yesterday, the scent of other people's shampoos seemed nearly thrilling, as did the smell of bogs, wet grass, dirt, even that overly strong Bath and Bodyworks plug-in thingie I've got in my bathroom (which is supposed to be sandalwood and vanilla).

I also realize that I can't describe scent well. I don't know if I'll ever learn. Is that okay? I don't know. There's a lot of things I can't communicate, and this has been something I've been thinking a lot about lately. There is much I feel, and much I know, that I've kept to myself for so long that I just haven't got the words. I can communicate through abstract art, but no one would get what I'm saying, so it amounts to the same thing.

Earlier this evening, I watched the film "Blindness", and I had so many thoughts that I wanted to express, yet I realized I could not express them. I didn't try, and I'm not going to (at least not tonight).

When I was a kid, I hardly spoke. Now I'm a blabbermouth, and when I write, the words flow in the same gush of free-flowing non-edited nonsense with some nuggets of truth in them. I'm rather attached to this "style", but I hope someday I will have one word to my twenty words, and I can get to the point (or even have a point). In the meantime, I'll keep on doing what I'm doing.

At least I'm thinking and learning. What would it be like if I weren't? I shudder to think of that condition.

Painting note: Mark Rothko - title and date unknown. The power of Rothko's work does not translate well into small tiny iconic images. Standing in front of one of his paintings, I experience color as feeling and the self lost, engrossed, in the act of painting at its purest. Here, it is like a nice ball of hand dyed yarn. Good enough!


Anonymous said...

Interesting post, Julie!
Once in a few months I have days when my sense of smell becomes very acute. It feels like a revelation of sorts, the world suddently becomes larger and brighter, the boundaries disappear. On days like those I have an inkling about what kind of world dogs inhabit.
Incidentally, I used to think about blindness a lot when I was young and later in college did a triptyque on that subject.

TMC said...

In my imagination your house must be a riot of fragrances with all the bottles and lotions and potions you've got. :)