Sensory Overload

Yup. That’s the one.

For the past few months I’ve been having very strong, very real feelings elicited by smell or thoughts of scents. The feelings are so strong that I swear I can actually feel a presence of whatever it is I’m thinking about.

They are so real that it’s as if I can taste the smell. Sounds weird right? I think so, too. Yet, I have been thinking about the memories a great deal.

I like many people buy things in bulk at Costco. But on a trip to visit my parents I decided to buy a large bottle of Jergens lotion at a local grocery store to leave in the bathroom I use when I visit. One less thing to pack I thought.

When I used it the first time I was almost knocked to my butt by the overwhelming memory of the scent if my grandmother. She has been deceased for 42 years. I last was near her around the age of ten.

So I came home and I bought another bottle. I’m telling you I was shocked by how strong these feelings are. So I looked at the bottle and it reads, “Original Scent: Cherries and Almond.” I started to cry.

At ten (1972), and living in a farmworker home in the south end of the Central Valley of California I would never have known what almonds or cherries smelled like.

We bartered for our food. My dad worked for Walmon Bros and Elliot (spelling correctly is optional and based on a child’s memory) later sold to Metzler Farms. They grew oranges, tangerines, tangelos, Santa Rosa plums, peaches, kiwi and granny smith apples. The apples were experimental in that the trees were espaliered with the idea that maybe one day a machine could harvest the fruit. That was in the late 70’s; apples are still harvested by hand.

So with all this fruit around, we would trade some of it for potato, melon, watermelon, corn, tomato, grapes and carrots (Bunny Luv). Yeah, ok. They were not purchased. But hey we worked our butts off, so keeping a little for ourselves.was kinda a right. Yeah, it was stealing.

But never would we ever have cherries in the house. Oh and while we likely had almonds, I at that age would not have known or paid attention to what they might smell like.

So imagine my surprise when I realized that the scent of my maternal grandmother was in fact cherries and almonds. What could have lead her to use this particular lotion above all others? Jergens ads?

She was the one person in the world that loved me for absolutly no reason and never, ever had a harsh word for me. The scent of Jergen’s body lotion knocks me to my knees. I think of her everytime, no matter how much of a hurry I’m in. There is no escaping it.

I’m ok with that.

Did I tell you that looking at a child’s coloring book makes me smell crayon colors like Burnt Sienna and Periwinkle? That’s another story.

My Abuelita Goyita.


About Caro

I am a social worker by training and a peace officer by profession having worked with California’s delinquent youth and young adults for 28 years. I firmly believe that our development as humans depends on our environment and that sometimes we get stuck. As such, I write about those things we sometimes ignore or fail to see until we are forced to pay attention.
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2 Responses to Sensory Overload

  1. Smells trigger strong emotions and memories. It’s not weird – it’s inevitable. The sense of smell is connected to your limbic system (the primitive part of the brain). Don’t ask me how I know this — my stock answer is that I read it somewhere… Your in-house resident expert might know a little more about this than I do…

    Liked by 1 person

    • Caro says:

      Well you got me curious now. And never forget my favorite line from Jane the Virgin, “What? It’s just a thing I know.”


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