Last night, as I was making my way around the market looking for tidbits to show my babies I love them, I stumbled upon a bush of jasmine polyanthum. Since leaving California five years ago, this is
one of the flower I most miss. It just won’t grow here- it needs a warmer, more tropical climate, and it blooms in the dead of winter.
My breath caught in my throat when I saw it. Pushing my cart thought the mess of people looking for chocolate and corny stuffed toys, I had my eye on this little bush, apparently unrecognized by most of the northwestern people holding their perpetual cups of coffee… All I wanted to do was inhale the deep, lovely fragrance of the tiny white blooms.
Already I knew I love the perfume of those blossoms, but I was completely unprepared for how it made me feel, where it took me,when I buried my face in the plant. I closed my eyes, and inhaled, oblivious to the market or the crowds or my cart in the way- I must have looked like a looney- but I couldn’t move. My eyes welled with tears and there was a lump in my throat so big I couldn’t have spoken if I had wanted.
You’ve heard that smell is the strongest memory trigger? They’re right.
It was 17 years ago, instantly. The cool ocean breeze is blowing off the marina, and the beach town I live in is deserted this February weekday. My hair falls in a tangled mess to my back, and the Indian ankle bracelet jingles with each step of my bare-feet, as I walk towards the waterfront to pick up some chai from Mr. Toots. My skirt is gauze, and catches the breeze, and as I pass a large jasmine vine, I pluck a handful of blooms to put in my car later. I am so young, 17- away from home for the first time, headed to meet my best friend-who will one day become my husband. We are meeting on the railroad trestle to have tea, watch the sunset and talk about deep spiritual things.
I opened my eyes, back in a cold northwest grocery store the day before valentines day, with three kids at home waiting for me, and that very same spiritual giant who still loves me today. I wiped the tears from my eyes, and went to go get milk.
Happy Valentines Day.