There is a “city” smell that whenever I encounter it it takes me back to my childhood. It’s that burnt smell that wafts around pretzel vendors. Whenever I smell this I am immediately transported back to my trips into the city with my parents as a child. I’m holding my dads hand and looking up at the gloriously tall buildings with a smile on my face. I’m stomping my feet to scare the pigeons (I still do this actually). I’m taking in, with the innocence of child, the city around me – asking my mother “what that icky smell is” or “what’s wrong with that man?” as a drunk tries to pick himself up off the street. I’m marveling as the suits rush around me and the buildings start to glow with the setting sun as the workday ends and the commute home begins. I’m staring so hard at the lights of the skyline on our drive home that they’re like glitter. Since my dad has always worked in the city my parents took me in quiet often. This led to my everlasting love affair with New York City, which made me proudly declare on class trips to the Empire State Building or the Brox Zoo “You know, I was born here.” and was probably one of the main reasons I moved here and stayed here after college.
There are other sights, songs and smells that take me back. The smell of dough will instantly transport me back to my grandmas kitchen. It doesn’t matter that I make pizza dough once a week. Every time I get yeast and flour together I’m 5 years old and standing on a chair pulled up to my grandmothers counter top watching her measure and mix ingredients while she explains the recipe to me. Holiday baking especially makes me recall those days leading up to Christmas (or Easter) when my grandmother would teach me how to make her special fruit pastry roles or bread. Now when I bake before the holidays I always feel her with me while I sift stir and mix the ingredients.
And of course, there’s music. I do not have the time right now to post about every single song that “takes me back” to my youth, because there are so many memories in my mind that are associated with music. Dancing around the living room with my mom to The Doors, singing “I think I Love you” by The Partridge Family at the top of my lungs in my friends car (What?), finding my dad’s single of “A Boy Named Sue” and having my little mind blown after listening to it, wondering how a song that was so old could be so cool .
There’s one particularly funny song that has 2 memories; it’s “Gloria” by Laura Brannigan. When this song came out as a single from Flashdance (Hoo boy I’m really dating myself here) I Loved it. I had the 45 which I used to rock out too with my toys on my little ladybug record player. Yes, record player my young friends. Not a cassette or a CD a record player . As in vinyl. You can google it if you’re not sure what that is. The second memory comes later in my adult life, when I first moved into the city and was out celebrating my birthday with my roommate and a group of friends. Me and my roommate decided it would be fun to split a hit of acid to make the night more interesting and after a very long night of underage drinking we came home to find Flashdance on TV and collapsed in a fit of giggles as the song in her namesake serenaded us to sleep out of the tiny TV we shared. I’m not sure I’ll share this particular story with my daughter until she’s much much older.
I wonder what kinds of sights, smells or music will take Ivy back to her youth.