Tuesday, November 8, 2011


Forty years ago, 1971 to be exact, I met a young man named Michael. Michael lived right around the corner basically from where I live now. Who would have guessed that 40 years later I would be living here with a totally different perspective and life. But, here I am.

I was only 21 and still not sure what I wanted from life "when I grew up". I look back now, with a different perspective and realize that the more things change, the more they stay the same. Michael was a "free spirit". He was the first person I had ever met that always had a positive outlook on everything. And I mean everything. I used to work all week and then drive 3 hours from the Bay Area to spend the weekend with him. He always had dinner ready for me but it was never a typical dinner. He always made dinner an experience and fun. One night we celebrated "Country Joe and the Fish" with a special dinner. Everything, including the carrots, had a fish theme. Yes...he had carved all the carrots into fish shapes. It was those kinds of fun experiences that I remember about Michael.

Michael and I eventually went our separate ways. I was working in the corporate world at the time and he was living up here, 3 hours away. And I was young. Things had a different perspective for me then. I wanted different things in my life. A year or two later I met Bill and we have been together almost 38 years now. We celebrate 38 years this coming December. And, little did I know then that I would be living here with Bill now. It's funny how things work out, isn't it?

What made me remember Michael and all these memories this morning was this flowered container that sits on my sink vanity. I lifted the lid and put my nose to the container and there he was...inside that jar. Michael had purchased this little container for me one day when we had stopped at the local Five and Dime store. I waited in the truck because it was going to just be a short trip in and back out. But, out he came with this flowered container and gifted it to me. I have had it ever since. Inside, there is a bottle of jasmine oil that he purchased from The Body Shop in Berkeley one weekend when he came down to visit me. The contents of the bottle have long since evaporated but left behind are the stains from the jasmine oil and the scent. Yes...40 years later the scent of jasmine still permeates that container. And, every time I lift the lid and sniff, it transports me right back to that time 40 years ago.

Years later after Bill and I had been married a year or two I found out that Michael had drown in Clear Lake trying to save a couple of people that were in a capsized boat with him. He met such a tragic end but he also gave of himself unselfishly, just like he always did. I'm happy to have had the time that I did with such a remarkable person. He gave me a different perspective on life at a time when I was just starting to form my opinions of life and work and the people who were important to me. For this I will always be grateful. And I will always have my memories to transport me back.

Funny how a scent can do that. It skips over years; it skips over things that have transpired (good and bad). It takes you immediately back in your mind to that time and place. And being here now allows you to look at that time and where you are and get a totally different perspective. Sometimes it is the same but sometimes it is not. Sometimes it allows you to realize that the choices you made were the right and proper ones, even though at the time you were making them it was painful and difficult.

Today, just a quick sniff has given me the opportunity to process and reflect. And I realize all the great moments that I have been afforded. It has allowed me to remember to enjoy the ride and not second guess my decisions. There is always a reason, there is always a choice. Look to your heart and know what is inside. Your heart will never steer you wrong. And if you forget: open up that container and take a giant whiff. I guarantee it will help you remember!


  1. This is really a thoughtful post,and I'm so glad you shared this part of your life. Smells can bring back so much and it does help to remember, it puts things in perspective, and sometimes we learn new things about ourselves and a situation.

    A very nice post. Very.

  2. wow michaels story ripped me up a bit...what a guy..and so cool he was brought back with the smell too...smells do tht to me...great post...

  3. We should all have a "Michael" in our lives. I did. His name was John... crazy, attentive, looked at the world with fun and an openness that drew me in. It was the 60's, he had long hair and a soft voice. My Dad didn't like him.
    We used to sit under the music building near the pond at Diablo Valley College and talk about all kinds of philosophical things.
    We did crazy stuff. We ran through the streets in San Francisco and barefoot on the beaches.
    There were roses growing around the pond at DVC and it was a fragrant rose, passionate and red. He wrote me poetry.. about love and my long hair.
    I still remember the fragrance of those roses and those warm afternoons.
    A few years later I saw him one more time, in Berkeley, where I was working. He smiled at me and said, "You cut your hair." That was all... and then he crossed the street and he was gone.
    Still, a fragrant rose brings him back. Still...

  4. I feel like we all need to know a spontaneous loving young man in our life times...the scent of a memory is one of the strongest connections one can have. Thank you for sharing this innocent love experience. Peace, Mary Helen

  5. Thanks for a lovely post. I imagine everyone who reads this will spend some time remembering the "Michael" of their youth. For me it's a sound that sparks those memories, the sound of big surf. Ahhh. I'm going to drift off now to revisit those memories!

  6. I love this post, Teri. Scents do that to me too. The scent of Rosa Rugosa (beach plums) in flower always bring me back to an amazing summer on the RI beach with my first love, many years ago.

  7. Excellent post and yes a whiff of something from years past definitely does bring back memories. Love that you've had these moments to reflect as you have done, and we got to be a part of it all. Have a great day.

  8. What a tender thoughtful post. You were lucky to have a Michael in your life. I love how a scent can bring back a memory and that yours were so fond, and that you shared them with us. Thank you.

  9. Thank you for sharing something so beautiful. I believe in what you said about following your heart. It will never steer you wrong. Have a wonderful rest of the week.

  10. what a beautiful post, teri...it is amazing how scents and smells can capture a complete memory...time travel in a whiff of jasmine...


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