On our walk to school this morning, my boys and I crossed paths with a woman smelling of sweet mint. The scent launched me down memory lane. It zoomed past my forties with their dismantling of family and arrival at the unknown. Past the thirties collaged with growing a career and growing babies. It flew beyond those restless twenties, and right through my teens.
The smell landed in childhood. Those years of wonderment, silliness and illogical fears. Back then I’d rummage through my mom’s purse looking for gum. She kept a stash of Wrigley’s Doublemint “chewing gum,” as she called it, buried in an inside pocket. It was one of those large packs. Fifteen thin sticks wrapped in a silver foil that I’d hold against my nose after opening. The smell used to fill her purse. Now it filled me with longing as my mother rose strong, and warm, and just out of reach.
She comes and goes in this way. Her essence appearing suddenly, triggered by a smell, or phrase, or sound, and then ebbing softly. This morning, the memory flashed and faded as the passerby pulled the minty air along with her. I reached for each of my boys’ hands. Those tiny warm fingers also always on the hunt for sweets. We kept walking to school. But now, my mom lingered around me as I lingered over my boys, their own childhood memories in the making. All from a whiff of mint.