Smell of a Generation

10 Jul

As part of my writing institute I have been doing (obviously) a lot of writing. Rather than hiding it in my writing journal like I normally would, I thought I’d try to get better about sharing a piece or two with the world on occasion, so here goes. 

While I’ve spent a not insignificant amount of time trying to block out the majority of my middle school experience, the smell of Cucumber Melon transports me back to those hallways and my sixth grade memories, whether I like it or not. 

My middle school years took place at the height of the Bath and Body Works craze. Country Apple seemed to be their most popular scent, but not at Magnolia Middle School*. We were the class of Cucumber Melon. 

It wafted down the halls, floating behind us, a body spray shadow every bit as connected with our identities as our fingerprints. It was ours in the hallways. It was ours in the cafeteria, ours in the bathrooms, ours in the library. But it was ours, most, in the locker rooms. Hundreds of bodies, hiding behind towels, insecure in all but our Cucumber Melon shampoo, conditioner, lotion and mist. 

The smell of Cucumber Melon defined our three years at Magnolia. It defined us, our generation and what we held dear. 

Given how desperately I, for awhile, wanted to forget that I ever attended Magnolia, no one was more surprised than myself when I accepted teaching in the one place I swore I’d never return to. 

The name of the school is different now, as are the faces, but the hallways remain the same. Students are instructed not to wear perfumes or scented lotions due to allergies, but every now and then I get a whiff of the unmistakable scent of preteen girlish angst. This smell is no longer synonymous with Cucumber Melon. It’s a scent new to me, but unmistakably Theirs. Whenever I happen to smell these potent rebels in the hall, I smile, and hope that they find as much cumfort, repreive and sense of self in the scent of their generation as I did in mine. 

*Name of middle school changed for privacy. 

 

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