One of few things that I really can’t stand is the smell of tide soap mixed with fried meats. It is the smell of poverty. The smell of debts, diseases, rage, hopelessness, and weakness. The smell of aggression, vindictiveness, despair, French fries and ketchup. The smell of obesity, cancer, anger, medicine, and menthol gum.
Every time I pass by someone smelling like the tide laundry detergent and meat, my mind returns me to the times of my own homelessness. Ironically, I was neither unhappy, nor panicky. I was pregnant, and my mind and body saved me from intense emotionality and high sensitivity. I was frozen. People did not bother me much. Nothing bothered me much. I was immersed in my solitude that was intermittently disturbed by Greg’s brief and direct texts: “check your iron, check your sugar, schedule an ultrasound…”. I ignored him like everyone else involved in the witchcraft of traditional medicine. I was calm to a fault. My past was behind, my future did not exist, my pregnancy was a piece of cake, and the present seemed to be an existential movie with an unpredictable scenario I had no control over.
One day I showed up in Greg’s office and asked for a box of Campari tomatoes; 4 months pregnant, 87 pounds, pale and anorexic, long hair, dangling earrings, and khaki pants
– If you do not help me with money, I will end up being caught stealing from grocery stores, and your kid will be born in jail.
– I will send you a check, what is your address? – he looked annoyed and irritated, I interrupted his afternoon lunch and meetings, but I could not have cared less.
– I have not found any place yet, Greg, still looking.
– You are loony.
– You are a dickhead.
He gave me enough cash to move out of the stinky shelter redolent of sweater, cheap perfume, and bed bugs. I checked in a fairly decent hotel, where I stayed until I found my own place. The first day after moving into a new apartment, I bought expensive laundry detergent and rewashed my clothes to get rid of the tide smell. When my neighbors cooked barbecue, I was about to puke; the smell of animal grease brought flashbacks of the past I wanted to forget.
Two years went by, but my reaction to the smell of the tide detergent and fried bodies of animals is still the same – disgust. Greg thinks I need help, I think I need time to deal with my own demons and move on.