Every odor can provide some information

Do you remember body odor? Or odor beyond the smell of your hot breath, maybe coffee breath, maybe dehydrated breath ricocheting off your mask back onto your tastebuds and up your nasal passages?

I think of the bodies I’ve smelled.

Past lovers and what remains on the bedsheet, the fresh newborn heads of my nieces and nephews, a waft of my grandmother some form of Estee Lauder or Clinique trailing behind her, my mom, my first home, a smell of warm spices and cold decaying leaves somehow existing at the same time.

And then I really think about the bodies, imagine the crush of humanity where body odor can be discerned. Typically in a place and time where bodies are standing close by for one reason or another. Public transportation, airplanes, Disney World, protests and marches, voting booths, the DMV, the grocery line.

I breathe in, I breathe them in.

What am I smelling? What bit of information can I glean? The mix of DNA and place? What they have for meals day in and out? Metabolism and metabolic rates? Other cultures and homelands? Whether we are relatives or only relative?

I think all of it and maybe it’s been too long.

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