Total Recall

March 12, 2012

Being smacked in the nose with a strong, random scent is usually … unpleasant. But it feels like aromatherapy at Brookside Gardens in Wheaton, Md. As you walk the public park’s paths, unidentified flower fragrances sneak under your sniffer and tickle your recall, instantly evoking long-lost moments.

But if the olfactory sense is our strongest connection to emotional memory, hearing’s a close second. Long-submerged events race to the surface the second a song comes on.

Duran Duran’s “The Reflex” sends me back to mid-’80s days aping frontman Simon Le Bon’s moves in front of the sliding-glass door while wearing my mom’s royal-blue suit jacket. 7 Seconds’ “Walk Together, Rock Together” mini-LP was the exact length of the drive to my high-school girlfriend’s house, and hearing it now makes me ponder every country-road turn. Prince’s “Purple Rain” rockets me back to a college slow dance that was both awkward and awesome. And Primal Scream’s “Come Together” transports me back to the broken-legged Cabbage Patch dance moves I performed during my wedding reception.

Flowers are powerful, but my memories are with music.

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Katie Aberbach · March 9, 2012