Memory of Scent: How a Hotel Shampoo Brought Me Back to My Awkward Teenage Years #YesItsPineSol

memories of scent 

Have you ever noticed that something as the simple whiff of a brand new binder can completely transport you years back? 

A few weeks ago on our way home from a European adventure, we stayed in an Amsterdam airport hotel. The hotel was cheap but so well designed. It was truly the first airport hotel that made it seem exciting to sleep so close to an airport. With a full-wall black and white print of an airplane and gorgeous red accents everywhere, it felt completely unique – like somewhere I’d never stepped foot before.

 Amsterdam Airport Hotel

Eager to wash off the grime of a day of biking around Amsterdam and prep myself for the next looooong day of flights (Amsterdam -> London -> St John’s -> Halifax -> Toronto), I jumped into the shower, popped open one of the hotel shampoo bottles, and lathered up.


Immediately I closed my eyes and I was back in my hometown of Belleville, a mere 14 year old, pulling on my black jeans and CK t-shirt, applying my green mascara and roll-on watermelon Lip Smacker lip gloss. I can feel myself lounging on my bed with my feet up against the wall, chatting away to my bff on our new (huge) cordless phone about Matt (my first real unrequited love) and how helplessly and hopelessly adorable adorable he was when he laughed. I can picture that goofy lopsided grin on his face as clear as day – I spent two years hoping that grin would be aimed at me.

(I cannot believe that I don’t have photos of everyday occurrences like shopping with my BFF & stalking my crush! Alas, such were the days of life before digital cameras!)

And as I washed my hair in that hotel, these memories kept raining down on me, splashing like the water from the showerhead – a year or two worth of memories landing drop by drop. Shopping with Donna at the downtown sidewalk sale. Goofing off with my Jr High Youth Group buddies on the couches in the basement of the church. Scouting ALL OF THE CLEARANCE RACKS at the mall in the hopes of finding non-knockoff brand name clothes that even sort of fit me.

 high school

And why? What was the connection between that airport hotel bathroom – which I had never stepped foot in before – and my lovelorn early teenaged years in small town Belleville?

The hotel shampoo. It was a CK Be perfume knock-off.

Man. That was THE perfume. All the beautiful people in 17 magazine wore it.  We bought the CK Be knockoff body spray and perfume at dollar stores (because what kind of a 14 year old could afford that herself?) and probably stank to high heaven with the amount that we wore.

That smell DEFINES a good two years of my life so much so that even now – twenty years later – it takes no more than a whiff and all of those feelings, excitements, plans, and friends seem just as close now as they did back then. (Hey – stop doing the math.)

The smell of freshly cut grass on a warm summer evening does the same thing. All of a sudden I have this urge to round up my neighbourhood friends for a game of manhunt or frisbee across the front yards. I can hear all the adults chatting on the porches, and the sounds of Blue Jays broadcasts coming out the windows. 


This is why I adore the smells of freshly cut Christmas trees and Christmas baking in the oven – it takes me right back to my responsibility-free days of lounging by the Christmas tree, willing my mind to see into the wrapped presents to figure out what I was getting. 

Smells connect our past and our present in a stronger way than any other sense – it’s true – there have been so many studies that confirm this! And… it may sound lame, but that’s also one of the reasons that I really love cleaning with Pine Sol’s Lemon Fresh cleaner. When I was growing up, there were only 2 smells that meant “THIS HAS JUST BEEN CLEANED SO PLEASE, PLEASE DON’T MAKE A MESS HERE!” : 1) Vinegar and 2) Lemon. 

We did all of our cleaning on Saturday mornings – I would vacuum the hallway and the stairs, my brother would sweep the kitchen, my sister would dust and clean up the newspapers in the livingroom, and then my other brother would vacuum the livingroom. My mom handled the rest of the cleaning – mopping the kitchen floor, cleaning the bathroom (which always happened on a Sunday morning right before church for some reason), washing the windows. And it smelled like lemons and vinegar in our house (but thankfully the vinegar smell never stuck around for long). 


So when I smell lemons while I’m on the floor scrubbing the bathtub, I think of making a train with all the displaced kitchen chairs while my mom mops the floor. I think of carefully putting a new coat of white polish on my Sunday Shoes while my mom cleans the bathroom. I think of practicing the piano while my mom washes the windows, her newspaper squeaking against the glass. 


I don’t enjoy cleaning the house. In fact, it’s one of my least favourite tasks. However, it’s just so funny to me that if I choose the right cleaner, it actually makes me happy while I clean. Never mind the fact that I can use the Lemon Pine-Sol for almost every cleaning job in the house – the lack of clutter under my sinks also makes me extremely happy – but it actually turns the act of cleaning into this journey through my carefree days of being small and having someone else do the heavy lifting and protecting. 

 Maybe lemon isn’t your happy scent…  Pine-Sol has you covered. Lavender, Sparking Wave, Mango-Mandarin Burst, Sunshine Meadow… find the one that brings you back to your carefree days, and let the scent of memories peel the years away. 


Disclaimer: We received some goodies in exchange for this post. However, all views and opinions are our own. 


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Jenn vanOosten

I live in Hamilton, Ontario, and love my city. I'm a Netflixer, choral music geek, bookworm, inventor of recipes (I take Artistic Licence on EVERYTHING that I make), wife of one, mother of two, and owner of a neurotic Schnauzer. I respect people who respect others. I love good food that's well done, but my favourite lunch is KD & hotdogs. With ketchup. I'm addicted to Clearance Shopping. I will ALWAYS get the product that I want at the price that I want, eventually.

One comment

  1. Aw…so many memories!! CK One, Love’s Baby Soft, Lip Smackers Tangerine BODY SPRAY! Apple pie, cookies, pepernoten.

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