They say scent is the strongest memory trigger.
I keep burning a big Yankee Candle, one in particular - Lilac Blossoms. I mentioned it at work the other day and got a little bit of teasing. The big guy burning flowery candles at home...
My maternal grandmother had lilacs in her yard. White, bluish, but mostly purple. That's the color I'll always associate with lilacs I think. My great aunt also had a HUGE cluster of lilacs by her old farmhouse. We dug up some of those and planted them by the house my family built in my early teens. Right by the corner of the house, which happened to be in front of the window to my room. They took root and over the years we lived there completely filled in. And during the right season if I opened my windows my room would be filled with the scent. The scent is tied to feelings of home for me - fun times, loved ones. It makes me think of days laying on my bed, reading a book. Playing at my grandmother's house. Running around my great aunt's farm. I remember helping my father strip all the old paint and repainting her house one summer. I'm sure I hated it at the time, but looking back I remember it as a good time - nice place.
My great uncle died the same week my maternal grandfather did, while I was in high school. My great aunt followed him not too long after, she'd just kind of given up after he died. The last time I saw that house was shortly after she died, putting affairs in order. I haven't even looked since, I'm afraid it won't be there. The farm was one of the last bits of undeveloped land in the area. Fenced in by the Northway and a housing development, just off Wolfe Road in Colonie, NY. I can't imagine it hasn't been sold off, carved up, and subdivided over the years. I really doubt that creaky old farmhouse is still there. Let alone that monstrous thicket of lilacs.
My grandmother grew ill and eventually needed more care than home care could provide. The house was sold. She died a few years ago. I did drive down to her old house a while back, just kind of sat in the car on the street and looked at it. Wondering if it was at all the same inside. There used to be woods surrounding it. And a spur rail line that was still used now and then to deliver propane to a local company nearby. When I was little the trains would still slowly trundle past now and then. But they stopped coming, I guess trucks were cheaper. The rails grew over. I used to think those woods must've gone on for miles, and I used to imagine finding some old ruins, an old roundhouse full of rusting locomotives. Well, the woods are a subdivision now, and it turns out they didn't extend very far - with all the trees gone you can see I890 from the house. The old rail spur is gone completely now, bulldozed for the houses. I don't know if the flowers are still there. I didn't think it would be right to go walking around some stranger's home. I kind of hope they are.
My parents sold off our old home several years ago. My room is someone else's room now I guess. I wonder if they like lilacs.
All the things I loved and enjoyed... what I have left is a candle.
Merry fucking christmas.