I shaved the rabbits this morning. Didn’t really want to, love the soft tawny fur, the way it swirls and curls, the whiff of wilting parsley in winter. But rabbit fur and linen just don’t go together, and it is officially linen season. I can’t help it. I’ve been imprinted by the old ladies who raised me. They are the ghosts in my closet. When I reach for a little summer dress or a sleeveless top, I hear their voices. Not with the rabbits, dear. My grandmother always called me dear. So the rabbits had to go, tufts of fur circling toward the shower drain, gone until sweater season. I’ll miss looking at them in the morning when I stretch in the mirror. I’ll miss fluffing them with a bath towel. I’ll miss sniffing them and wondering who else can smell them.
My grandmother was pristine. She used to brag about what a gentleman my grandfather was, how he wore a bow tie every day and never smelled. That’s the difference between my grandmother and me. She powdered her girdle. I raised rabbits. I like the way men smell. I like the smell of people, the aura that floats from their skin through their clothes into their personal space. Pandemic isolation has me missing those traces of our humanness. My nose used to know what my friends smelled like the way it knew my mother and my husband. There is a comfort that comes with inhaling the familiar. I’m longing for the scent of loved ones.
My nose has memories that I forget until they sail through my nostrils into the catalog of my history and record their presence on the list of things I’ll always remember. I’m sure you know what I mean. There are smells like music that connect us with a person or a place from way back yonder and we are transported into that experience, swept over by a feeling, dipped in the waters of time. I miss being physically close to people. Never thought I’d be lusting after body odor, but I want proximity. Not the wisps of cologne that linger in the elevator. The real human radiance of moist skin, wet rabbits on a breeze, last night’s adventure seeping through pores, a primordial connection with a member of my species I may not have even seen, but we passed through each other’s cloud and my nose registered their humanity.
In the country on warm nights we used to say the air was close. Heavy air clung to us. We fanned ourselves on the porch rippling our scent into the dark blue night to mix with the glow of moon flowers and hang in faint mist over the lawn. Now I’m dreaming of those nights, wishing for that closeness, hoping for everyone I know to inhale the gospel of the season and exhale fondness, familiarity, and comfort in lusty human breath, the treasure of our time.