Mini Lotion & Potion Hoarder

It’s the middle of a workday afternoon and I’m sitting on the bathroom floor of my small Brooklyn apartment. I’m on deadline but I’m compelled, anyway, to sit on the cold tile and stare accusingly at the contents of the cabinet under the sink.

I’m a neat-freak by nature. I find clutter mildly suffocating and harbor a hatred for knick-knacks that confounds the women in my family. But after stumbling upon an Oprah episode on “hoarders” I’m suddenly filled with anxiety about my dirty (or clean?) little secret. Taking up every cubic inch of this cabinet, threatening my identity as a non-hoarding neat freak, wire mesh containers overflow with hotel-issued shampoos, conditioners, gels and lotions.

I, like most hotel guests, pocket the complimentary offerings, as they might prove useful on a future trip and it seems terribly wasteful to leave half-bottles behind. (Or that’s what I tell myself.) But I don’t save them preciously, I don’t collect them while they collect dust, rather I use them frequently and happily. Every time I wash my hair, lotion my hands, lather up, I’m vividly reminded of a specific place and moment in time.

Scent, they say, is the sense most strongly bonded to memory. So although I’m in my apartment bathroom, unscrewing the little cap on “The Sea” hair wash takes me to San Diego’s Hotel del Coronado. Or the citrus-y green Hermes Eau d’Orange Verte bath gel to Rome’s Sofitel, the soft Karite Shea L’Occitane lotion to the Hotel Monaco in San Francisco. And everything that encompassed these trips. I think of adventure or luxurious respite or site-seeing exhaustion. I think of being comfortable or being out of my comfort zone. I think of one of the great loves of my life: travel.

A few whiffs of these pocket-sized potions remind me to relax. One peek under my sink would out me as the mini potion and lotion hoarder I am. But the distinct departure to these past far-away places, however fleeting, is worth it. And maybe I’ll get to meet Oprah.



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