My grandmother gave me this talcum powder when I was still in college, I think. At least 30 years ago. It has moved across state lines and time zones and lived in medicine chests in at least seven bathrooms. She died 23 years ago.
There’s still powder in this cylinder.
I don’t use it often, and when I do, I don’t use much. It doesn’t take much. That startling power of our sense of smell takes me back to young womanhood, to a blue second-floor bathroom with delicate curtains, to a springer spaniel-basset hound mix in the yard below, when the maple tree was still there, when the old garage was still there.
It takes me back to her vanity, the mysteries of old lady powders and potions, the Jean Nate body spray I gave her every year for Christmas, the round powder puff in her squat greenish container of Wind Song by Prince Matchabelli. (Show of hands if that induced a commercial jingle in your head.)
I dreamed about her bathroom last night. And her kitchen and pantry, but mostly her bathroom.
Judging from a shake of the wrist, there can’t be much powder in there. Someday — possibly even after another move — the perpetual font of powder will stop producing, and it will run dry, and I will be sad. It will be tempting to pry off the lid and use it for something else. A pencil cup. But it will be the right thing to do to let it go.
There’s power in this cylinder.
Would you tell me a story about the evocative power of one of your belongings?