the smells of a newborn

We know that smells are a strong memory tool.  We know that there are smells that recall things that were, for all intents and purposes, locked forever in our brain banks.  I had a neighbor growing up who thought that my house always smelled like spaghetti sauce, which was a good thing.  I didn’t smell it, but for whatever reason, Proust’s madeleines and all, it created a collection of identity.  But maybe the lack of smell also works for that purpose.

I realize how much certain smells create a disconnect of memory; because of their toxicity, we/I avoid them and do not linger on them.  Certainly I do not dwell on poopy diapers.  There was one woman I know who, after years of infertility and tragic loss, reveled in the smells of her babies’ diapers, the baby they adopted and the one that was born right after the adoption went through.  But she is pretty unique in most ways.  I am not so celebratory or even stoic.  I change the diapers and chuck them, but lately, I have been thinking about them.

There are smells that come from bodies breaking down.  Age creates more break-downs.  You become aware of this when visiting old age homes, nursing homes, hospitals, old people.  The best homes don’t smell, and you don’t realize how important that is until you go into the places that are not well-kept.  We visitors don’t want reminders in our faces of our own mortality.

People who do these weird detoxing fasts go through major smells; I guess they want to get back to being newborns.  Sorry.  The smells are inevitable.  Embrace your being while you can; no excuses.

So I have been thinking with our new baby how very sweet no smell is.  Even the poopy diapers of a nursing baby are sweet.  In a reflective way, if I may cross my metaphors for a moment.

Of course I may, because this is my blog.


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