January 7, 2009

My insides are fluttering tonight – so much so that I can't sleep.  They feel like they're falling down padded steps inside my head, giggling all the way down.  Then they get up, dust themselves off, ascend the staircase.. and do it all over again.  I'm spinning in my bed like a torpedo.  I just keep fucking fluttering.  Chalk it up to wine and blood and blood wine.  (God I love having all this Star Trek around)

I keep thinking about the sense of smell.  Yeah… I know… that's weird.  Well guess what?  Fuck you.  What should I be thinking about?  The fucking Eagles?  Get a life you cretins.

I can't sleep… so I'm going to write about stuff.  Deal with it.

My second favorite smell is Joe's Peking Duck House hot and sour soup.  There's something about it – it's just so absolutely delicious.  It's the smell of desire to me – food desire.  The soup is disarmingly vinegary, so there's a sourness (duh) to it… but there's this sweetness that underlies the sour.  I think it's the soy sauce.  Then there's the egg, and the scallions, and the sesame oil and the mushrooms.  The broth is so viscous and pungent… so dark, like the color of coffee beans, yet almost luminous in its transluscence.  The soup itself seems to have some kind of inner light – imagine if there was a jeweltone for the color brown… that's what the soup looks like.

I've had a ritual regarding that soup for as long as I can remember.  First, I sit back and enjoy the aesthetics of it; peering into the gaudy plastic bowl, its contents a deep, thick whirl.  Then I disrupt the sliced scallions that garnish the top-center of the bowl… mixing them up into the rest of the… well… of the mix.  And then, finally… just before I have my first spoonful, I lower my face to the bowl and take a deep smell.  Oh let me sing of the glory of hot and sour soup!  My eyes roll within my skull like marbles… my knuckles go white, my muscles relax… and my mouth waters… no… my mouth gushes.  That's right… it fucking gushes.

All those soft bits in the mouth – those salivary glands… the little chewy bits under the tongue… they start to dance – they squish around.  A deep whiff of Joe's hot and sour soup… and my mouth clenches.

That's just my second favorite smell, though.  Number one is much less lovely. 

It's the smell of a diesel engine.  School bus exhaust. 

It's the one smell that throws me into memory moreso than any other.  Diesel exhaust smells like skin bathed in red light – like curled lips, sticky and glossed.  It smells like winter… and the crunching of frozen snow.  It smells like cigarettes on the breath and my pulse in my ears and my fingers numb.

It's a smell that causes me to collapse into my memories – both in images and in feelings.  A diesel engine makes me fall in love again – makes me yearn like a kid.  It makes me shiver in the cold that isn't there.  It makes my chest hurt.

Isn't it so lovely that smell can do that?  That it can just grab you by the nose and rip you through time? 

I'm endlessly haunted by the notion that the act of recalling a memory alters it.  That remembering a moment reassembles the proteins in your head in exactly the same way as when we're forming something new.  I have these memories in me that are so clear – that face drenched in red light – the smell of my mother's perfume as she scooped me out of bed and took me for a ride in the dark to cure my croupe – my father when he would run his fingers through my hair while I slept – so clear… it's as thought they were photographs.  But according to science… every time I touch one of these photographs, I change them.  I leave a fingerprint.  A smudge.  I obscure the truth of these moments with my recollection.  So the only way for them to stay true is to forget them.

Tell that to my nose.

I can't decide what's more important to me – to remember through forgetting, or to forget so that I might remember.

Bah.  I'm fluttering still.  I'm rolling around in my bed and thanking my nose out loud.  I'm glimmery and giddy and happy and warm.

I'm doing just fine over here.


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