Wednesday, July 27, 2005

My, how scentual.

If you were to chart out a pie graph of my mind, scents make up the majority of things that trigger memories -- many times, memories I hadn't thought of for years, or details I had never paid attention to. A certain cleaning detergent smell reminds me of my grandma's kitchen; Dreft laundry soap brings back my grandmother and grandfather. One whiff of newly constructed houses, the scent of sawdust in the air, and I'm suddenly 5 years old again, playing with a hammer and nails as Dad and other workers build our home.

Tonight, it was a cologne from Bath and Body Works that did the trick; I went to town with a couple friends, one of whom had to get a birthday present for her boyfriend. We sniffed dozens of scents at Marshall Fields, then meandered over to B&BW. I had her smell the cologne, then sprayed one on myself so she could smell it better. It was quite pungent at first, but quickly settled down to a mellow, warm scent -- and I was suddenly pulled back to a time early last October, stargazing from a chilly lakeshore around midnight, my hands freezing, but my body warmed by the heavy coat that had just been placed around me...and this scent enveloping me, emanating from the warmth of the lining.

It's very calming and comforting; a reminder of wonderful times, my favourite class, an amazing teacher who is one of the most brilliant people I know; the teacher who was stabbed by a guy high on meth last fall (and whose whiteboard on the office door read "Do math not meth" for the week following); the professor who accidentally broke the observatory one afternoon, because we were busy talking instead of paying attention to the list of things to do in order to safely open it; the professor who wanted the theatre professor to flunk me and threatened to not even look at my final and give me a zero, so I would have to stay longer. This scent reminds me of all that, and that I helped secure his job for a while longer at least, cutting through the insane campus politics and writing a long letter to the Dean of the college.

The Dean, oh, the Dean. The Dean who hugged me when I transferred, who played Henry Higgins in the a local production I played piano for, the middle-aged bachelor who leaves his office door open all the time, hoping people will pop in and say hi (I always do), who has The Coolest House Ever; the man who looks like -- forgive me -- a teddy bear. I loved that school so much, and though I've settled in at my new university, my first campus still has a piece of my heart. Sure, there are bigger and better things at my current school, but it's the people, the camaraderie I miss the most.

The campus I attend now is relatively small, as far as 4-year campuses go, but it's just big enough to wipe out most student-teacher interaction outside of class. and that interaction was something I rather took for granted, getting to stop into my professors' offices whenever I had a question, eating lunch with them, and them knowing me well enough to sense whenever something was going on.

Usually, when the semester's over, I throw out any test I got less than an A on; last fall I kept one, the one that had the lowest grade (the only non-A) I got in astronomy, for the inside cover of the test booklet is filled with writing (such distinctive handwriting), commenting on the fact that this work was not [underlined twice] up to my usual excellent level, and was I okay or was I just having a bad day? If I needed to talk, to come see him anytime.

It's that I miss overwhelmingly -- the personal touch, the knowledge of professors being real human beings who care about their students; I know most people believe, due to ethical reasons, there should be a gap between teachers and students, but I'm thankful for the professors whom I knew more as friends and mentors. I learned so much from them than I ever expected; they imparted to me not only math and science, music and english; they taught me about life, they encouraged me, they taught me to be open, to be brave, to try things I don't think I'll be good at. They taught me to broaden my mind and explore. They taught me an insane amount merely by conversing with me, sharing with me things about their own lives. That camaraderie is something I don't have at my new school, and was something I once took for granted. I am so thankful to have ever experienced it at all.


thecoolestblog said...

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dänika said...

Thank you!