Wednesday, January 21, 2015

I Am Home, at Last

Finally, our house is mine, too. Is that an odd thing to mention? What's the hold up, you may wonder? It has nothing to do with legal matters like titles or deeds. It's simply this: our house now smells like home to me. I have pretty sensitive olfactory nerves, perhaps to make up for my deficit in the hearing department, and when I first arrived, my nose was shocked at how different Chuck's house in Illinois smelled than mine in Utah. 

In my blog, I have explored the topic of THE SCENTS OF HOME before. My children and I all enjoy life's sensory pleasures; Sierra and I drool over extremely soft fabrics, and my sons and I love the delicious smells of home cooking and fresh laundry. We all enjoy good music, although our definitions vary somewhat, and we all love the scenery that nature affords our eyes when we're hiking.

For nearly two decades, Chuck has only shared his home with his three boys, and I'm sure the occasional presence of the females in his life. So there were scents, just nothing my nose picked up as familiar. Our homes are stocked differently, with different cleansers, hand soaps, and laundry detergent. 

Don't misunderstand; his house is extremely tidy; he is fastidious about his routines, and he had recently completed his own version of BECOMING A MINIMALIST in anticipation of my arrival. He had mopped and dusted, but the contrast of his clean house smell versus mine was stark.

One odd thing about me is I don't just want things to not stink, I want them to smell GOOD. My goal has never been to achieve a neutral smell. I love my Marc Jacobs perfume, my Bath and Body Works candles and soaps and lotions, my Tide and Downy, and the seasonings I use in my cooking: cinnamon, cumin, garlic, onion, and basil. When I bake bread and cookies, my nose delights in the warm yeasty and sweet smells that emanate from the oven. When I walk outside in the early morning, I love to smell the warm scent of dryer sheets coming from the vents of my neighbors' homes intermingling with the camping smells of wood stoves and fireplaces.  

Chuck kept asking me if anything has surprised me since arriving in Saint Charles, and I kept telling him no, because frankly, I didn't know how to bring up the fact that I am weird about fragrances. We are very different in this sense because Chuck's sense of smell is so weak. He doesn't notice pleasant OR unpleasant scents. My nose has always been keenly aware of odors, which can be a good thing, or a very unpleasant thing, depending on the situation.

Good fragrances, obviously, are sweet and savory spices, nice cologne, freshly mown grass, suntanning oil, the earth after rain, garlic and onion simmering in butter, and new baby smell. Bad odors? Oh, dear. Well, damp basements, body odor, poopy or urine-soaked diapers, wet ash trays, cat poop, sheep's wool, house fires (not to be confused with the smoke of a cozy fire in the fireplace), and smoke damage after house fires extinguished with water come to mind.

When I became a mother, I noticed how territorial I was about my little ones. My babies rarely had to sit long in a wet or dirty diaper; the smell seemed so strong to me. Doing laundry has always been a pleasant experience to me, and washing all of the tiny baby clothes in Dreft detergent and drying them with Downy dryer sheets was euphoric for me. I would have been devastated if they'd been allergic to my choice of laundry products. My children always laughed with delight when I emptied the laundry basket of warm clothes fresh from the dryer over them.

I can remember nuzzling my sweet little Sierra when I picked her up at the babysitter's, and how shocked I was to breathe in the very different odors that had been gathering in the fabric of her clothes while she was away from me. She smelled of Italian marinara, a faint cigarette smell, and other scents that made me wrinkle my nose. I couldn't wait to get her home, and bathe her and slather her skin with Johnson's Baby lotion, and then dress her in the clothes that smelled like our family, and smell the sweet baby fragrance I associated with my little ones.

So when I arrived at Chuck's house, I knew it would take some time to "mark my territory," metaphorically speaking. One of the first things I did after our first trip to the grocery store on Christmas Eve was make a potpourri of oranges, cinnamon, apples, and pumpkin pie spice, and simmer the fruity, spicy concoction on the stove. Unfortunately, the pot boiled itself dry, and a thick, black smoldering crust was stuck to the bottom of the pan by the time the smoke reached my nose. One step forward; two steps back. 

Photo Credit: Chuck Bennorth
Chuck helped me rid the house of the smokey smell as quickly as possible by turning on the large ceiling vent upstairs, and we opened windows and doors. I moved the offensive smelling pot out to the garage, and began again to establish some yummy smelling fragrances in the house, lighting the candles we had just bought, and baking some peanut butter cookies. 

Days went by, and each time we returned home, I would take in a tentative breath, and realize the house still had a fragrance not familiar to my nose and me. 

And then one day, one wonderful day last week, after going out to lunch with Chuck's folks, I threw open the door to the house, and my nose was pleasantly surprised to smell the scents of home, OUR home. All of the scents of Colgate toothpaste, our deodorants and colognes had mingled with the smells of home-baked cookies, scented candles, citrus hand soap, Old English furniture polish. Everything had combined into one warm fragrance that to me represents all of the comforts and delights of home.

I am home, at last. It smells so good to be home.


  1. YAY! So happy your nose -- and especially your heart -- are happy at last!! So many blessing are wished for you and Chuck. xxoo

    1. Thank you, Sheila. It's been a long time, even longer for Chuck, to find the happiness we desired, but it was definitely worth the wait.

  2. I can totally relate to the value of our olfactory senses. Mine too, is very sensitive.
    LOVE, how even your nose is finally at home. Thanks for giving us a peek inside your home.

    1. This MORNING my nose is very aware we had cauliflower for dinner last night. I told Chuck there are some times he is blessed with his lack of smell, but he's really missing out on the good stuff most of the time!


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