If my childhood were to have a scent, it would be the scent of gardenias.
I still remember my first house. I remember it was raised on stilts and that the neighborhood cats often made their home beneath it, the frequent mewling of newborn kittens the soundtrack of my early childhood. I remember it was infested with small white mice, like refugees from a lab, and how one night my mother woke up screaming when a mouse decided to join her in bed. And I remember the never-ending backyard, how it stretched into our neighbors’ yards. Back then either fences weren’t in vogue yet in that part of Miami or people just weren’t as paranoid.
After my brother’s birth, we moved into a bigger house. What I missed from my first house was not the mewling cats or the lab rats. Not even the huge yard. What I missed was the scent of gardenias from the bush that grew beneath my window. Being lulled to sleep by its scent.
To this day, whenever I smell gardenias I remember what it was like to be secure, to be loved. To have been a child.