“Nothing can cure the soul but the senses, just as nothing can cure the senses but the soul.”
Although it is impossible for me to name a favorite song, there are several that hold special meaning for me. These are the songs that transport me back to a very specific person, place, or time. Oddly, they are not necessarily songs I care all that much about. For instance, I hear that silly song from 1971, “Me and You and a Dog Named Boo,” and I’m driving with my father up to Mormon Lake Lodge. A much better song, the Rolling Stones’ “Time is on my Side” puts me back in Boy Scouts where I am camping along the Mogollon Rim in central Arizona. I hear anything from Al Stewart’s nearly perfect album, “The Year of the Cat” and I’m 19-years-old living in my first apartment with my best friend, Rick. Frank Zappa and the Mothers of Invention always remind me of my childhood bedroom. Glenn Miller makes me thinks of my mother. The list and memories go on.
Certain smells have the same effect. When I was about 13 or 14, I would make a few dollars a week cleaning up the Knights of Columbus hall in Scottsdale, Arizona. Since the Knights were basically a bunch of middle-aged Catholic men looking for an excuse to get away from their wives and families, a typical meeting was little more than a late night poker game. The hall had a bar in the back and the smell of old, stale beer and cigarettes permeated the walls. Despite the unsavory aspect of those odors, they immediately whisk me back to those teenage years and I am once again unencumbered by the stresses of modern, adult life.
As I write this I realize that other senses do the same thing. There are tastes that remind me of Christmases long past or family meals that will never again be repeated. I miss Mom’s Golabki. The same can be said for touch and feel. My hands and face are time machines.
These sensory memories are as deeply ingrained in my head as any memory can possibly be.
What sounds, smells, or tastes make up your own personal sensual history? What never fails to erase the years and bring to life people who’ve moved on from this world or places that have long since vanished?