You know how you can smell a scent and it reminds you of a place, a time, or a person? Sometimes you may even smell it and not remember where you noticed it before, but you remember that the feelings you had when you last noticed it were good. I hugged my boyfriend one day recently and that happened to me. He was wearing a scent that brought back feelings of comfort and security for me. OK, and attraction too. But where had I noticed it before? So I asked him....
It is the scent that always brings me back to last summer. The summer that was originally shaping up to be one of my worst ones and instead, ended up being one of the best ones. I don't know the name of the scent but I know he still has it and it always reminds me of him and of the summer that brought us together.
It was the last weekend in June last summer that it all kind of began, for me anyways. It was the weekend of the American Cancer Society's Relay for Life and like many years previously, I was signed up to participate with a team from my church. Things had been crazy that week leading up to the relay with my health. Sure enough, the Friday of the relay, I was on my way to the emergency room just praying I would make it to Boston in one piece. I was having a difficult time with my breathing due to an autoimmune disorder. A fun six hours in a Boston emergency room resulted in a three day hospital stay. When I was discharged, things were still looking shaky. All of my immediate summer plans got cancelled and I was looking forward to at least a few weeks of extensive reading and some serious movie watching. Between that and a pretty intense round of steroids, I was not a happy camper.
At the risk of sounding melodramatic, my life changed after that weekend though. It was the first time I had been hospitalized while living by myself with my dog and I had to make adjustments. I needed more help for a short while. I had to count on some people I didn't even realize I could count on, especially when it came to caring for my dog.
And then there was him, and the scent. We had one or two conversations before that weekend. I cannot lie; I had noticed him so many times before. Something about him drew me in, wanting to know him. But I was too busy being involved with the wrong man per usual and in the days following my hospitalization, that whole situation blew up and ended. When it did, I was done with men, dating, the whole nine yards. I was too sick to care and I had big plans for as soon as I felt better. I was going to start taking better care of myself, start seriously writing, and spend as much time as possible with my friends and family. Life was just too short to waste it investing my energy and time into people that were not worth it.
Best laid plans, right? All of a sudden he was there, right by my side. I had convinced myself that showering, dressing, and driving myself the two minutes to church the week after I got out of the hospital was a good idea. I barely got through the service and went to sit down to talk with a friend during lemonade hour. It was summer so it was lemonade instead of coffee! He came over to me, kneeled down, and asked me how I was. He offered to bring some of his video collection for me to church the next Sunday so I had more to keep me occupied at home. We really didn't know each other much at all; yet he extended himself to me in the most caring and compassionate way. I more than noticed him then.
Problem though: I was done with men. And to be honest, I thought he was just trying to be nice. People at our church are like that: nice, kind, and compassionate. Of course he would be no different. Plus what would he see in me? Because really, I probably never looked more pathetic or sickly at church than that first month out of the hospital. We were friends on Facebook as well so he knew my health issues. He knew my age. He knew I had been dating. He knew I liked country music. Hell, he should have been running the other way!
He did bring those movies he promised me the following Sunday though and we talked a bit more. And the Sunday after that and the Sunday after that. So it grew. As the weeks went by, our conversations by the lemonade pitcher grew longer and longer; oftentimes we closed the place down. I loved talking with him. I loved just being near him. We joke about that now, you know, the whole pheronome theory of attraction. Apparently many people around us knew what was happening before I even did. I was in self- protection mode, but yet that didn't stop me from listening for his voice every time a church usher would say good morning to my turned back. And he always smelled the same, that comforting cologne smell. The one that even now, reminds me of how I hate being away from him for too long.
As the weeks dragged by, I started to get better and he was still there. Now I had a problem though because his presence was becoming quite distracting to me at church. I remember a particular conversation with a friend from church where she mentioned something significant that was said during the service the day before. I had missed the whole thing. It was important and I felt terrible. It was his fault though. That day before, he had come and sat right next to me in church for the first time and having him so close, while smelling so good, drove me over the edge of distraction.
Labor Day weekend finally came around and after closing down the church one last time as just Sunday buddies, we somehow worked out a plan to go for a walk with my dog the next day. That, as they say, is all she wrote. Summer ended. I found my best friend. I fell in love. And even now, sitting here by myself in a cafe, I still can smell in my mind his lingering scent.