Olfactory memory is one of the ways in which I can place myself back in situations so far removed from conscious thought that I would say they are gone forever. Until I pop an opener through the lid of a can of coffee and can suddenly see the kitchen sink that my mother was so happy to have – Kohler, blueberry blue. Or someone lights a cigarette – and I can actually see the stubble on my grandfather’s chin as he lights up over the top of the accordion. It is just that first breath of those things, mind you – that swoosh of aroma coming up with the broken vacuum, and the instant when the combination of freshly struck match meets tobacco. It is amazing how sharp the memory comes, how details appear with such clarity.
Now I get that from opening a new paint. There are some colors I use a lot so when I order, I get a gallon. Opening the new gallon has all of those elements of smell and sensation that promise to put me right back in this place, in this studio far into whatever the future holds – and that is comforting. For the less lasting of my senses, the color makes me joyous now. I’m good with joy in the now.