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Day 20, Tuesday. Three smells that bring back memories
1. The combination of Chanel No. 5 and cigarette smoke, which reminds me immediately of my grandmother – it was her signature smell until 1993, when she had a triple bypass and had to give up smoking entirely. Today the smell that most reminds me of my grandmother is a 1975 Latour, of which my grandfather bought a case the same year and stored it in anticipation of opening it on New Year’s Day, 2000.
(Sad ending: he died in 1985, and by 2007, the only remaining bottle had a bad cork. Silver lining: Latour vinegar is superb as vinegars go.)
2. Baking chocolate-drop or molasses cookies. They both only happen at Christmas. The first reminds me of thirty Christmases at home, since it’s my mother’s signature holiday dessert; the second reminds me of thirty Christmases at my grandparents’, since it was my grandmother’s (not the Chanel No. 5-wearing wine-drinking grandmother, the other one) signature holiday dessert.
3. Hyacinth. Evokes not so much a memory as an unbearable ache, as if every spring since the creation of Earth is packed into those blossoms and the concentration is so beautiful I can’t stand it. Ditto lilacs.