Friday, June 15, 2018

What Is the Smell of Love?

Another day came to its denouement.

"Can you get me a towel," he asked.

"Of course, sweetie," I said, heading over to the linen cupboard.

I picked out a big, fluffy white towel, and stopped for a moment to reflect on how nicely it was folded and walked toward the bathroom. I put my nose into the soft whiteness and inhaled the smell deeply.

"My son," I said.

"If you ever want to know what love smells like, this is the smell. A fresh towel for you."

He smiled and seemed mildly bemused but I could see he understood my point. Because for every fresh towel, laundered and smelling so lovely, stands a parent who got up every morning to go to work, to make the money to buy the things, and buy the food and prepare it, to buy the clothing, to make the lunch, to launder the garments and the linens, to pay for the soap, and the water and the power.

What is the smell of love?

The smell is the banana cake in the oven in the evening, prepared for the holy Sabbath. The smell travels deep into your heart and your soul, and the feeling, the feeling is sunshine when your child walks into the house smiling because the smell of love is everywhere, and your child grins, saying "banana cake?" even before hello. And your heart bursts.

What is the smell of love? 

The smell of love is tucking your children into bed and smelling their skin, and knowing that each of them has a different smell. The smell of clean pyjamas and shampoo, and soap against their sheets. It's the summer breeze wafting into an open window into the bedroom of the home you have built.

What is the smell of love? 

It's the smell of the coffee in the morning that you make for you and him. The happy smell that takes you back to your childhood home. In your mind, you can still see the yellow and white tiles, picture the telephone on the wall with the long, curly cord. You can still feel how sunny the kitchen was when you bounced down the stairs. The happy smell of love before things fell apart and two houses were made out of one previous home. The house is long gone but the smell of the essence of happy remains when you close your eyes, or before you drift to sleep.

What is the smell of love? 

The smell of love stays with you in your mind's eye long after the person or thing or the place is gone. It's the smell of the soup your grandmother made that cannot be recreated, even using the same ingredients. It's the smell of your mother's perfume that is somehow not the same as it was when you smelled on her, as a child, even when it's the same brand, the same package, the same name.

And so it was that evening, on that night, in my house that I taught my child what love smells like.