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An Ode To The Dorm Heater Smell

Everyone misses something about campus. This one Bwogger just happens to miss something more…scent based.

You know in that Joni Mitchell song “Big Yellow Taxi” when she says “you don’t know what you’ve got ‘til it’s gone?” Every time I hear that I think of you. I don’t know exactly when that started and, well, I know it’s weird but I just wanted to say how much I miss you. I knew that you were important to me once we got to know each other, but now that I’m on the West Coast and you’re back on campus, Joni’s lyrics are hitting even harder. Sorry for…I don’t know…being so dramatic? Ugh, I just miss you a lot.

I know that we haven’t known each other for that long but you’ve already made such an impact on me. When winter came and we became closer, I was glad that there was something on campus that could make me feel comfortable and calm, even in the midst of midterms and finals.

When I got here I don’t think it ever even crossed my mind that I would have such a strong connection with you–the smell of a dorm heater. I think if I tried to explain what we have to anybody else they’d think I meant heat itself, and not actually you. But you are so much more than heat could ever be. I mean I think it’s fair to acknowledge that you are stuffy, but it is you in totality that I really miss so much, stuffiness and all. You–an accumulation of dust and grime on a heater that has probably never been cleaned since its installation in 1987, with a slight hint of burning metal and paint and some other mysterious scent I just can’t seem to place–that’s what I love, and what I deeply, deeply miss.

Maybe those people who say it’s the heat that I miss are on to something, though. I know you know I am no neuroscience major, but in that Introduction to Psychology class I took to fulfill some requirement, I learned that the olfactory bulb is directly connected to the amygdala and hippocampus, meaning that smells are uniquely tied to memory. You are like that to me. You tie me back to everything that brought me joy, everything that brought me a sense of place. Late nights with friends in the dorms as we listened to music, watched movies, and wrestled with the newness of autonomy, genuinely terrified of the greatness of the world and what lies ahead. You were there through all of that, and you were there for me. You may have gone unnoticed most of the time, but whenever I was able to be present within the chaos that is this university, I smelt you.

So now, when most of the country is turning on their heaters again, bracing for what the winter brings, I am still here in the heat of the West Coast, dreaming of you.

I miss you, dorm heater smell, and I hope you know that. I can’t wait for the day when I get to smell you again.

Heater via Pikrepo, love via Bwogger

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