I'm lying in bed.
What's that smell? Why does it smell like vacation? California! Where is that smell coming from?
Aha. My new supercharged night moisturizer has a strong jasmine component, and this jasmine scent all over my face smells exactly like a hotel I stayed in while in San Diego in 2006. I assume all the hotel toiletries there were jasmine-scented, or there were hidden jasmine air fresheners placed around the room, or some such similar trigger.
The link between scent and memory is so strong with me that I can remember the taste of the coffee on that hotel balcony and the light in that hotel room when I smell this night cream. I've been known to stop short when a passerby is wearing a cologne that a high-school ex-boyfriend favored in 1998, and when Gap re-released their "classic scents" last year, smelling Dream sent me right back to my freshman dorm room and the friend whose closet always smelled vaguely of Dream. I once vetoed a cologne for my dad, sampled blindly, when I recoiled at the association of that particular smell (dancing at gay clubs) and my father.
Perhaps tonight, after gift-opening, I'll have some new scents to create similar memories for others with. Say, a nice bottle of Black Orchid...?