Smells like a memory

“Bad day today.” Okay not bad. Average. Which might be worse than bad because …it’s “meh”! At least bad days make you feel something that you can use. A bad day due to not eating breakfast teaches you to next time get up earlier and prepare some. Just saying.

Enough rambling!

My day began opening my eyes to the realisation that it’s Monday. Not a good start. But that was followed by my dog trying to catch my attention with some horselike noises while upside down on the bed. Okay I’m warming up to the day! Keep them coming doggy!

I get up, get ready, prepare my lunch, get in the car, get in the bus, I get in another bus, and I’m here, at work.

Describing how I was not in the mood to work or for basic functions like just saying ‘Good morning’, can best be captured by listening to a one-minute silence. That’s exactly how I felt. Like I was walking about in dead space. Or like wearing a huge bubble suit that makes you bounce back when, even slightly, contacting an object in your way. (My analogies are awesome!) Emptiness of space, time, emotion and thought was how I felt. Disconnected. Like I was not in control of my decision to be where I was and to complete standard daily work tasks.

It surprised me, but I managed to survive the day. To get work done and keep a humanlike behaviour throughout the whole day, successfully disguising how I actually felt. Leaving work at 3:45, I promptly got to the first bus stop to make sure I don’t miss the bus that sometimes arrives 3:50 and some others 4:05.
Hey, it’s Cyprus! We’re not big on punctuality or reliability. Make sure to be flexible on time when using buses here, but always be at the stops, in case they come on time, or earlier. -End of ramble-
So, I wait for 40-45 minutes for the bus, that was way beyond late by now. What did this mean? Well, that I had already missed the second bus heading for my city and that I had to wait for 2 hours to catch the next one!

An idea popped in my mind though! What if I catch a local bus to the first bus stop the intercity bus could pick me up from? That would guarantee a nice front seat and it would kill the time. I got on a local bus and planned to get off at the last stop. But as we were approaching the end of the bus’s line, something made me get off a stop earlier.

“I’ll walk a bit. I have time” I thought.

I start walking, looking around me at the buildings and notice the amazing sunset at the end of the avenue I was walking on, behind the traffic lights and a reflective building. I could not stop looking, it was mesmerising. For a moment I thought of how interesting I found the fact that I can so easily be pleased. By an unrushed walk, a sunset, unrestored old buildings. I then realised that travelling has played a part in that. I have always been appreciative of the little things in life. But what has travelling to “boring” off the guidebook places has taught me, is to see the extraordinary in the ordinary. It has shown me that there is beauty in just standing there. Wanting nothing from anyone and anything. To just be present, while observing anything and everything around you. Maybe a rock, that is so interestingly shaped that you just can’t help not staring!

Side-ramble done. Let’s continue.

Walking around that avenue and exploring on a Monday after work, was obviously inspiring me. While walking, and lost in existential thoughts, I all of a sudden smelt some sort of familiar flower, but could not connect the scent to something. It was an intense scent that persisted for a few meters. I kept on looking around and the only thing I could see was this cypriot flower plant that I know does not smell much. Also, this flower smells more like a weed, rather than a flower. I’m not sure how it’s called in english. My grandmother use to call it in cypriot: “tsardelloothkia”.


Even though I was focused on getting to the bus stop, this scent seemed to get stronger. I looked around once more and could see nothing but cars speeding next to me and worn down buildings. I kept on walking trying to convince myself to stay on track and to not wander off.

That’s when I saw it.

A lemon tree. It was a small lemon tree, PACKED with lemons, that smelled so intensely that you would think someone’s holding a lemon stem up your nose! I froze. You know how I stare at rocks and random things that catch my eye? Well this was another stare-moment!

lemon flower

This tree was not special in some sort of way, in relation to other lemon trees I’ve seen. And we have many of them here. In fact, almost every house has one! But I did not expect to see one here, next to all this traffic. On a Monday. I don’t know why this surprised me. Wherever there’s dirt, you can grow a lemon tree Nicole!

What made this encounter special was what this means to ME.

The scent of lemon blossoms is something that has the ability to make me simultaneously see and hear my grandmother, and even feel her skin. Smelling this, is like holding my grandmother’s hand while she talks to me about how the pointy part is already in the process of becoming a lemon, the blossom part needs to naturally fall off to become the pointy part and that the purple bud is the most sensitive one of all stages.

When I was younger, I loved sitting on our veranda floor and play with cats. I tried teaching the kittens that humans are friendly. Over both, my parents’ and grandparents’ conjoined veranda, there was (still is) a huge lemon tree that produces pipless lemons. My grandmother was so proud of it, just like she was proud of all the trees in her garden. But she loved this tree a little bit more. I could tell by how much more attention it was getting from her.

I would lie down on the floor playing with the cats and look at the small pieces of sky peeping from behind the tree leaves. One day, I decided to pick a spherical purple bud, because I guess I was bored. I kept smelling it, but I didn’t do anything with it. I cut it just because, and when I was done, I tossed it in the garden.

My grandmother comes out at some point and notices me getting ready to cut another one. Oh my god! She was so upset! She almost started crying! She explained to me the importance of trees, and that this little thing that I was carelessly cutting of, was going to be a lemon one day. I remember that I wasn’t feeling too much for the tree itself, but I hated the fact that I had upset my grandmother. I apologised and promised to never do that again.

Since then, I have always been careful when passing by a tree full of blossoms, in case I accidentally brush one off. My grandmother later on taught me how to cut a lemon from the tree, without damaging the stem, because that would leave the tree an opening to grow another blossom faster in it’s place.

Lemon bud
Lemon bud

Seeing this lemon tree packed in blossoms, in the middle of a busy avenue, next to traffic, on a Monday, after I had barely survived the day emotionally, was all I needed to feel better.

These blossoms were my rainbow after a crazy internal storm.

After I mentally thanked my grandmother for making me into the person that I am today and “told” her that I miss her, I continued my walk to the bus stop. I hopped on the bus to my city and slept like a baby until I got home.

That whole week I felt more connected to my long-term goals and was more willing to socialise.

And all this, because I missed a bus, decided to get to the last bus stop of the line “just because”, and to get off a few blocks before that stop to walk.

Nicole x


2 thoughts on “Smells like a memory

  1. What a pleasant and interesting post, and the beautiful description of your love and respect of your grandmother. Enjoyed reading it.


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