Browsing Tag

smells

Binders, Guest Posts

Listening.

February 4, 2016

By Michele Filgate

 

I.
To not know sound is to know it, because sound is all I’ve ever known. The not knowingness of it is what I live inside of; where I explore. My fingertips on the insulation that keeps the world from being too loud. The acoustic foam is spongy; my head is like the recording studio below my childhood bedroom, where my father spent countless nights searching for answers inside of the vibrations of percussion and loud guitars.

Listen to me, anyone says. And I can’t remember what they’ve just told me. Their voice brooms through my mind, pushes the dirt and dust from one side of my head to the other.

That’s because I’m seduced by the possibility of silence; something I see as evasive and confrontational, sure, but with the possibility of eroding my uncertain self, until I’m as smooth as a stone. Even when telling myself to focus on the space between the noises around me, I am afraid of those spaces. I hide behind noise.

A screen door opens and slams shut in my mind, over and over and over again.

But there are some sounds I squeeze myself into; I want to be held hostage, I want to be blindfolded so that I’m surrounded by nothingness; opened up by sudden thunder outside of my window, clean rain bouncing off of the peeling deck, hissing, warm, cloud tongue on earth, dirt becoming saliva.

My sneakered feet on the pavement one of those hums I suck on. Because sweat and breath and ground take me away from the void of sameness and stillness. I take air like someone who stayed underwater for too long, greedily, hungrily, as if it’s what will save me. During a run, I kite myself down sidewalks and up sloping hills. I am the wind and the stillness, I am the tug on the string. I am also the tree I get stuck in. Continue Reading…

loss

How We Stay Alive.

May 19, 2012

I have this smell on my old shirt that reminds me of basements, a heady smell.

The kind that makes you sit down on the edge of the bed after you bury your nose inside of it.

The stench of menthol cigarettes smoked the day before, of a long dark hallway into a windowless cubbyhole of a room where accounting gets done by a woman named Millie and her mother.

My father’s smell, of course.

The smell of a dead man, dead so many years now. These folds of brown fabric have Staying Power: the kind of scent that doesn’t believe in the washing machine but rather in the cycles of Rebirth, in the vast lives of molecules on spin and rinse.

Smells don’t really ever leave.

We choose them to stay.

Or not.

Same with people.

Around the world, led by our noses, through our own muddled histories. As if we are in a hot air balloon inside what feels like a dream: everything vaguely familiar and far-off at the same time.

The smell of a diner on Third Avenue where bacon is frying and a woman scrubs her teeth with her forefinger, using a butter knife to see.

That bacon will always be the day she found out she had stomach cancer, I left New York City, my friend found a kitten in the back of her jeep, my cousin overdosed and had a seizure at a Shell station two hours south.

To me: bacon will always be: that day, that diner, that woman, cancer, a gas station in New Jersey, my father’s old shirts folded in a box in a closet somewhere far away in Philadelphia, waiting for me.

The smell of wet snow is going to a homecoming football game with my godparents on Thanksgiving, a knot in my stomach because I am starving. Always starving. Ninety-eight pounds and starving.

Wet snow is my entire seventeenth year.

I am wondering now about the things that we do to keep us connected and alive. Music is one. Smell, another. Taste. Food. Sex. Yoga.

What else?

if I close my eyes I can smell my father and he has been dead a long, long time.

Why is that?

Because we choose to keep certain things alive so that we stay alive.

How else can we suffer such loss, not only of loved ones, but of the moment?

This moment.

This moment will never again happen but if you close your eyes,

There, like that,

and soften what you think you know you will find places you remember, places you can touch with a simple nod, a simple inhale,

a simple Yes.

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