Scent of a Summer


I was looking for socks. Plain old socks.

Rummaging around in the middle drawer, annoyed that it’s already time to dig out the socks, knowing that colder, darker days are just around the corner, I came upon my traveling pants.

The black ones. The black, stretchy Adidas pants with the white stripes that come down  to my shins. The pants I wore all across the country and nobody knew I had on the same pants five days out of seven. They didn’t dig into my stomach and they didn’t need to be washed very often.

I almost rummaged right past them and then I said, “my pants!” Like seeing an old friend, I clutched them to my chest, then held them to my face. I closed my eyes, and breathed in deeply, hoping they’d held on to just a trace of a scent from one of the places we had been last summer. They hadn’t. They’d melded into whatever mediocre other smells now surround them, nylon stockings, camisoles, the brittle floral paper that lines this old oak chest, and socks. damned old socks. I started crying.

“Don’t forget, Jean. Don’t ever forget,” I actually said this out loud to myself. A crazy woman, alone in her bedroom on a workday, with emails and conference calls and bills to pay and plumbing to fix, and two dogs with fleas, and I’m standing in front of my dresser with my eyes closed, my pants up to my face, speaking out loud. It was a prayer more than a command.

“Don’t let it go.”

It’s challenging my darlings, to keep the dream alive, finishing what I’ve started. Taking all the marvelous experiences Libby and I shared, like so many jacks tossed out on a sidewalk; our sidewalk that dipped and rolled across the whole nation, I need to scoop them all up, in my hand, in my brain and from my heart, laying them lovingly out again.

Oh,  and it’s not for lack of images, or inspiration, or words that come to me in the bathtub, or the car, or in the middle of the night; no, it’s that old devil time. That demon, time. But, worry not.  Before I hit the road last summer, I took a photo of something I had written and posted on my bulletin board at the old job.

Reminder Notes

I did. I will.

I’ll keep it handy to remind me. Just like my traveling pants.

About Jean Ellen Whatley

Writer. Dreamer. Sometimes schemer. Journalist/memoirist/observer and sometimes constructive irritant. Prisoner of demon muses. Mother to four humans and two dogs. In my spare time, I delete phone numbers of former boyfriends.

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  1. I wondered how you were doing. Please fill us followers in on your life now.

  2. Let those traveling pants be the catalyst. It will happen, give it time. Don’t be discouraged.

  3. Yes, definitely don’t forget! I remember when I read “The Agony and the Ecstasy,” something in that book made me feel that if I was serious about writing a novel, I would, no matter what, take at least one hour a day to write. If I couldn’t think of anything to write that particular day, I’d just think about the plotlines or write an outline or questions I had to answer about a character, etc, etc. It ended up being the perfect solution, and I wrote my first novel. I hope you also find a way to accomplish this goal. Time is a hard thing to come by – more valuable and elusive than money – but you can manipulate it, just as you can stretch a budget. Make time. Make time to write.