Smell can trigger a memory so strongly, so distinctly, so quickly. I remember right before my brother was born, my mother gave me a scented My Little Pony that smelled like a bubble bath. It was peptobismol pink with cotton candy blue hair. Whenever I smell bubble bath now, 23 years later, I have an instant flashback to holding that pink and blue pony in my chubby little, 3 year old hands - I am overcome with that mix of excitement and jealousy that precedes a sibling. I remember thinking- at that moment- that if I rejected the gift, maybe I wouldn’t have to accept a little brother – as if it was some sort of barter situation; maybe I would have my mom all to myself if I simply gave back the bribe gift. Ah, but my mother knew how much I loved My Little Ponies. Those little toys were like crack to a 3 year old. Clever mother. I would accept the brother in trade for this enticement, just this once. It’s surreal and hilarious having flashbacks of the emotions and thoughts of a 3 year old. Smell memory is strong.
Despite my nose being rather stuffed up the last couple days (in my attempt to kick a fondness/addiction for a powerful nasal decongestant spray), I whiffed something so... aromatic that I was hit with memories of Thailand. For just a moment, I was transported back amongst the stalls of roasting meats and vibrant silks – dripping in sweat and craving coconut curry. My stomach growled. While the trigger probably wouldn’t have been my first choice (hovering over a drain of exotic-animal-poo-water, for the curious), it was a fascinating little trick of the senses. Oh stinky Bangkok, ripe with Durian and faulty sewage systems, I miss thee.
Life at the zoo is chaotic, overwhelming, wild and wonderful. Walking onto a foggy zoo before dawn to the sounds of calling Gibbons, a roaring Lion, and the haunting call of a Hyena is as magical as I could ever hope for. It is getting easier and easier to wake up when the constellations are still out. I love the moist chill of the morning mist, the feeling of every little hair rising on my arms, the cold air in my lungs like a jump-start to the body. Few people are awake and I feel like the world is mine. I wish I could go into the intricacies of my day to day life at the zoo, but I cannot. Feel free to use your imagination as you will of all the possibilities for life as a zoo student.
I just did a search to see if I could find a picture of my precious pony toy from before my brother’s birth. Here it is! I remember the hair being darker, more vibrant blue. The memory is funny like that, constantly storing things in a more idealized state. Past follies are romanticized, events more epic, relationships smoothed out – we love to glorify the past. I guess that’s the story of the Big Fish, right? It feels good to be living a life that doesn’t need any embellishing; it is so important to actively make your dreams happen. I make it a habit to constantly ask myself “what do I want to be doing?” and if it isn’t happening, I make plans to do it. No excuses. It’s so easy to be your own hurdle. I have to stop myself from stopping myself all the time. I was a master of excuses for the longest time.
I already have that itch to do something adventurous again. I’ve heard scuba diving with sea lions in the Channel Islands is amazing, so methinks a scuba certification is in order.