Smells that evoke travel memories

“Every time I hear a certain song, or smell a certain smell it reminds me of the cruise,” said one of the 10th graders who I give a ride home from high school three times a week. She was settled into the back seat of my car with another girl as they shared a set of earphones listening to music while carrying on a conversation.

My radar went off. Post potential. “Oh, really?” I was inquisitive. I looked in the rear view mirror to show my interest. “What song? Anything specific? What smell?”

They weren’t too sure about what kind of smell. I offered suggestions determined to find out what a cruise smells like to adolescents.

“A fresh smell. Like the ocean?”

That wasn’t it. The smell was more like a cafeteria smell, but they assured me this was a good thing. Frankly, I thought of green beans cooked until they’re soggy, but if they insist. They couldn’t remember a specific song either, but from the way they dreamily talked, their cruise experience to the Bahamas and Mexico last spring break was simply divine. They took it with one of the girl’s mother. For both of these girls it’s the only cruise they have been on, but I bet, no matter how many they go on in the future, this one will be the best one ever.

That first experience of any kind of adventure is certainly one worth having. Listening them reminisce about their grand time, reminded me about how much travel to new places is so important and powerful. The memories from those trips are enough to carry us through those days when the sky is endlessly grey and the next spring break seems so very far away. It also reminded me about how powerful the sense of smell is to connect us to the memories of the places we’ve been. Hopefully, the good smells out weigh the bad.