by Mike Power
I was having some trouble at work. And at home. Mostly at home, now that I think of it. Anyway, I was having trouble. That much I remember. It’s funny now to think of what I was going through then as trouble. I had no idea how much worse things were going to get.
Kaitlyn from work told me to try meditation. “It helps you relax,” she said. “It clears your mind,” she said. “It lowers your blood pressure,” she said. I don’t know about any of that but I can certainly say this about meditation: it changes you. If you feel like you’ve hit rock bottom and there’s nowhere you can go but up, try meditation. You’ll find out you can always go down a little more.
Kaitlyn was the one who recommended Bruno. Bruno said he was from Austria but I never completely believed anything that came out of his mouth. He may be the most honest man on the face of the earth but when he speaks English he sounds like he’s trying to pull a fast one. Maybe he learned English from a convict on the lam.
At first I really enjoyed the practice of meditation. It was just like Kaitlyn said – relaxing and soothing. But I couldn’t stop with the simple stuff. As soon as Bruno mentioned “the third eye” I knew that was something I had to try. I have an addictive personality. If something feels good I keep doing it until it doesn’t feel good anymore. The third eye exercises felt really good. Now they really don’t.
Bruno had me lie down on my back on the floor, completely flat, eyes closed, legs uncrossed, hands at my side, breathing deeply. He taught me a lot about breathing. I could feel the passageways between my mouth and my nose opening up and the air flowing naturally between them in a way I never had before. Eventually, I felt like I was breathing through my mouth even when it was closed. “Feel the vibration in the back of your throat,” Bruno instructed, and I did. I was vibrating like nobody’s business. “Focus on the area between your eyebrows,” he said, and I did that too. After what seemed like an hour of breathing and focusing he asked, “Can you feel a sensation between your eyebrows? It can be a pressure or a pulsation or a tightening.”
“Yes,” I said. I felt something alright, and it was getting stronger.
Bruno asked if I could see anything. All I could see was the inside of my eyelids. He told me not to force it, just let it come to me. Nothing came. And then I got a whiff of something. It was something buttery, peppery, with a hint of…what?…cinammon?…vanilla?…clove! A definite hint of clove. I continued the breathing and the aromas became tactile. They got into my nostrils and found an open space in my head that was itching to be filled.
“I can…” I started to speak but Bruno interrupted me.
“Silent. Silent,” he said softly but firmly. He was right, too. As soon as I started to speak I lost the scent and as soon as I stopped it came back. Now there was meat in it. Steak? Hamburger? Definitely beef.
“Did you have a hamburger?” I asked him.
“Hamburger? No. But I had some kleinfranks at lunch.
I didn’t want to get into the kleinfranks thing with Bruno. I wouldn’t believe a word of it anyway. “Is that beef?” I asked.
“Kleinfranks are beef. Yes,” he said. In spite of myself, I believed him. “You are developing…something,” he said cryptically. “You should go home. You should try the meditation alone, in silence.” Again in spite of myself, I considered it sound advice.
At home I followed the instructions Bruno gave me. I removed my belt and set my phone to silent. I took off my shoes and my shirt before I lay down on the sofa. I covered myself with a blanket. I breathed deeply, with friction, and felt some kind of tingling between my eyebrows. It wasn’t the tingling of another eye, though. It was the tingling of another nostril.
The skin on the insides of a nostril is very sensitive to odor and this thing between my eyebrows was off the charts. Somebody down the hall was working on a marinara sauce and in the air coming up through an open window I recognized the scents of pine and dog and a thunderstorm that was just developing in a group of malignant clouds ten miles away.
There was a moment when I thought space became compressed so that I could smell the world in layers, like a club sandwich. Then I realized I’d crossed the thin line between meditation and napping.
When I awoke from my meditation/nap I wiped the drool from my lip and, following Bruno’s advice, went for a walk. I was anxious to try out my new nostril and find out what olfactory wonders awaited me in the newly revealed world. I was disappointed to find the world smelled decidedly pedestrian, just hot dogs and grass and dirt and pavement.
I stopped under a maple tree hoping to glean some insight from its fragrant branches and leaves. It told me nothing, except I was barking up the wrong tree, which turned out to be just the piece of information I needed. That was when she walked by.
My god, she smelled wonderful, like bread, fresh from the oven. I closed my eyes to get the full effect of her and it was overwhelming. Intoxicating. It was love at first whiff.
Lou Reed wrote a song called “My Love Is Chemical.” It went, “I know, you know, it’s more than physical. My love is chemical.” That was it: the chemicals in my body bonded with hers. Most of them did, anyway and the ones that didn’t, wanted to. As she walked away I could feel the gravitational pull of her composite scents – perfumes and powders that barely masked a powerful chemical cocktail that pulsed out with every beat of her heart.
I said before that I have an addictive personality and as the girl of my aromatic dreams linked arms with some lucky guy and walked out of my life forever I felt a tidal wave of withdrawal drown my heart.
I have only one question for Kaitlyn and/or Bruno: How do you close a third nostril once you’ve opened it up?