Just one whiff of chlorine, and I’m 10-years-old again, shivering in Heston Swimming Baths.
It’s now five-and-a-half years since I moved to San Francisco from the UK.
There are naturally a ton of things that I enjoy about living here.
Unsurprisingly, though, there are also aspects I miss, and one perhaps curious example is how easy it is to swim in a public pool in the UK.
There are relatively few swimming pools open to the public here in California, and the few I know about are only open in the summer months, on limited days, and for limited hours.
Of course, there are beautiful Pacific Ocean beaches a short drive away, but few people here swim in the sea, mainly because it’s so teeth-chatteringly cold.
The surfers manage, but it’s okay for them. They wear wetsuits.
But as I said right at the top, it only takes a single sniff of that particular “eau de swimming pool” chlorine to transport me back in time.
I’ve been thinking a lot about how evocative certain smells can be, instantly triggering powerful memories.
Sometimes memories we thought we’d forgotten, if that makes sense.
I explained last week that I’m now working on a fascinating project that’s harnessing the strong association between fragrance and memory to boost emotional well-being, while you sleep.
And thanks, by the way, to the many readers who got in touch to encourage me in these endeavours.
This week, I’d love you to take a few minutes to think about the smells you’ve experienced that have a strong link to people, places, or events in your own past.
Then, maybe you’ll be generous enough to share your thoughts with me, and, in turn, our readers?
Please email me, then I’ll compile as many contributions as possible into a brief anthology that I’ll share in your next Moodnudges post.
It may help to answer three simple questions:
- What one smell has the strongest memory-evoking effect on you?
- What specifically does it remind you of?
- And how does it make you feel to have these memories triggered?
I really look forward to hearing from you, and can’t wait to share what others tell me.