The First Sense

Smells like...

It’s hard not to connect a place with a particular scent. When entering a room, you will always be overwhelmed by the smell of it rather than the objects themselves. When nothing else subsists from the past, the smell of things remain poised a long time.

When my cousin from Italy came to visit us in Berkeley this summer, the first thing that overwhelmed the room was his scent, the scent of Italy, which, I don’t know why but, I associate with « Coccolino » and similar odors of fresh laundry.

When my host family opened the door of the room I will be living in, I could not help but be triggered by the smell of the room, a distinct smell of summer flowers mixed in with a slight hint of tobacco and stale smoke. And of course, the smell of the United States, which overpowered the room as soon as I opened my luggage and lingered in the air, clashing around me with the smell of Paris and eventually meeting its doom out of the window.

So, what does America smell like?

Grape Juice. I have ALWAYS associated the smell of grape juice with America. And although under regular circumstances I cannot stand even the smell of grape juice, after travelling 8,958 Km, it is the closest element to something familiar that surrounds me.

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~ par gitane sur 22 août 2010.

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