Taken For Granted

By
Two weeks ago I was at an RBC football game. The night air was getting cooler and I could smell the crispness in the air. I could tell winter was coming by the smell. Far off someone was using their fireplace. The smell of smoke rushed into my nose instantly evoking a memory of bare trees and frost-covered lawns. The smell of hot chocolate, hamburgers, and hot pretzels drifted by as I made my way to the bleachers. I closed my eyes and took a deep breath. Distracted, I walked past my seat. I stepped around a girl in a wheelchair and cut up to my friends.
If it was a normal Friday night I wouldn’t have been thinking of all the smells I come across. That night I met a girl, Casey, who couldn’t enjoy the same privilege I could. She couldn’t enjoy the smell of hot chocolate or the smell of a fireplace. Casey was born unable to smell anything, a disorder called anosmia. Not only can she not smell, she can’t taste anything except salty, sour, or sweet. When she first told me this I was skeptical and laughed, but when I realized she wasn’t joking it made me think. What would I do if I lost my sense of smell and taste? How long have I been taking for granted this gift, this pleasure?
I have never feared losing my sense of smell. The only time I have ever not been able to smell is when I get really bad stuffy nose. Even then I don’t think about how important the senses of smell and taste are because I know when my cold goes away my senses will, too.
Memories, places, and people all associate with our sense of smell. When I smell something I almost never forget the scent. This makes scent a vital part in my memories. Many of my most vivid memories are ones brought back by scent. When I was very young my grandparents were heavy smokers and their house smelled of nicotine. That smell today brings me back into my past when I would visit my grandparents. I remember sitting on the living room floor playing with Legos trying to build a Christmas tree. I remember the walls were a dark wood and the light was very dim coming from one lamp in the corner. The sweet smell of turkey cooking in the oven brings me back to Thanksgiving dinner with my family. I can see me and my siblings running around the table playing tag as my mom cut the turkey and prepared the other food. Sometimes, I can’t even describe what a certain scent smells like but if I smell it I can tell you exactly what it reminds me of and where its from.
Each person has their own signature scent. I use that scent to identify people just as much as I use their physical features. When I hug my mom, I can tell it was her by scent alone. Her scent comforts me and gives me a sense of security. Relationships and attraction are also affected by scent. I am automatically attracted to a girl who smells good. The scent draws me closer to her. Just like I can't forget what chocolate chip cookies smell like out of the oven, I can’t forget the scent of a person I love.

To understand, I asked Casey she thinks her lack of smell takes away. She told me that she fears she won’t know when there is a fire. Casey said she will never understand the joy of smelling something. Because she never smelt anything before she doesn’t truly understand what she is missing out on.
But I do. I had never thought about my sense of smell, really, until Friday. I appreciate my gift and wish I could explain it to her but I can’t. But you can’t explain color to a blind person you can’t explain smell to someone with anosmia. Shouting and cheering took me out of thoughts. I looked down and across at the girl in the wheelchair who I had barely noticed when I walked into the bleachers. She was little, maybe ten or eleven, and dressed in RBC green. I wondered what else I’ve taken for granted.





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