Valentines Jasmine

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.

16 thoughts on “Valentines Jasmine

  1. That post was a gift. I haven’t thought of Jasmine in quite awhile and brings back wonderful memories for me of our first married year living in Walnut Creek and going on walks downtown. Ah, the good ol’ days.

  2. Aww, that’s sweet. I get a little thrill every time I see forget-me-nots, but it’s nothing like that.
    I kind of hope you DIDN’T buy the bush, cause if you did you’ll be really disappointed when you kill it, rofl!!
    Happy Valentine’s Day to you and yours, we love you all!!

  3. How much Jasmine would it take to have you move in next door? (Well, jasmine and one hundres kajillion dollars…). :-)

    Jasmine is the smell of California as far as I am concerned. Really.

    I tried to find the hair place you told me about but had no luck. Was that California Ave in P.A or in Sunnyvale? :-)

  4. Now THAT was a beeeeeeUtiful piece of writing. I’m bookmarking you to visit again because if there’s one thing I like, it’s someone who can write.

    Glad you like my blog name btw (phnaar, phnaar :-D ).

  5. Bek- it was PA- but it was a few years ago, so it might not be there anymore… crap.

    Thanks for all the kind words about my wordsmithing… it keeps me sane, and if someone else gets a kick out of it, all the better. Thanks!

  6. What a beautiful post. I am not sure that I know what Jasmine smells like, but Gardenia brings back wonderful memories for me. I too am living someplace that it just won’t grow. And I too found the plant in a store once, bought it, and killed it. :( These days I stick to gardenia scented lotions.

  7. I live in NoCal and love jasmine, too. It’s the first thing I planted when we bought our first house. You have a wonderful way with words.

  8. Yep, I agree – scent is a VERY powerful brain trigger. I’ve been working on some short fiction I call “the smelly stories”… a series of stories that each have totally different characters, plot and voice but all tie together because in one way or another smells are a centeral part of each story.

    I keep poking away at the words….not sure what I’ll ever do with them, but the process is soothing and makes me mindful of paying attention to the miracle of my senses each day.

  9. It is the smell of diesel fuel does that to me.

    Takes me home… to my youth and the smell and comfort of my father.

    It always stops me on a dime.

    I love scents that can do that…

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