I found a box in my father’s basement. I was looking for a Christmas card of mine he’d accidentally packed up with the decorations. I was darting my eyes around the musty dark crannies of the room when I caught a familiar smell. It was a smell that hadn’t graced my nose in close to ten years…it was nothing fancy, only a candle in a broken glass holder. However, the smell triggered so many memories that I couldn’t help but follow it just to see what archives it might unearth. Suddenly I time-warped to 16 years old, listening to something like Audiovent or Finch (which no one would recognize today), pining over whichever boy I was denying I liked, but couldn’t get out of my head. With the scent of the candle came the fantom smell of a spring breeze infiltrating the porous lace sheers that covered my two bedroom windows. I was in another place…a young, raw place with many of my beginnings.
I followed the smell all the way to a dusty old box I found filled with general cheerleading paraphernalia, academic awards, school newspapers, posters the underclassmen had made me when I cheered my last game, and assorted flower petals and gummy bear wrappers from a boyfriend I had for about two months that I haven’t seen since then. Of all the junk, that if put in a blender would produce a live teenager, I found only one thing that really made me think. All of the things made me smile, but one thing reminded me that under all the superficial things I have always been the same person I am right now. I was a writer then too.
It was a circular wheel-like construction divided into four parts. When I saw it I remembered the project. We were to make a visual representation of who we are. In one corner were pictures of sunsets, beaches, and misty mountain mornings. In another corner was a collage of words, written in a whimsical fashion, that I felt described me. They were words like passion, dreamer, hunger, and dissatisfaction. In the third corner I had a drawing, which is a little strange, because I’m a horrible artist. However, if I ever drew one good thing, it was this. It was a face–mine I suppose, with a hand halfway over my mouth, and only one eye showing…maybe because then I only let a little of me show to everyone else, but I was on my way to exposure and a revelation. In the last section I only had one central phrase, “I’m a writer.”
I’m so glad the smell led me to that box. It helped to remind me that I’ve always known what I am. It’s been with me all along. Now on days I have trouble finding encouragement, or consider not writing another page because I’m truly scared to pull the trigger all the way on my dream, I have something to pull out of the cobwebs of my past. I can remind myself that a writer is not something I want to become, but is the someone I already am. It was resting comfortably in a box, but I’ve let it out. That box called to me, with nothing but a smell connecting us. I’m so glad I followed that smell of a cheap candle right back to myself…the someone I was, the someone I want to be, and the someone I am.