My friend Shilo and I walked into my apartment and both stopped in the kitchen and sniffed the air.
"It smells like clean laundry in here," Shilo said.
I did not agree. I don't know what it smelled like. It wasn't clean laundry to me. It wasn't something mutating somewhere within the depths of my kitchen. I didn't know what it was... but it was wrong. The only way I can explain it is this: you know how, when you walk into your house, it smells like home?
My kitchen smelled like someone else's house. The rest of the house was fine. The kitchen was wrong.
However, since I was tired, I decided to let it go for the evening. I grabbed my book and retreated into the bedroom to read, and eventually fell asleep.
In the morning, I got up early and was out of the house by 7:30 to hit the beach. If the kitchen smelled wrong, it didn't register as I went out the door.
When I came home, it was like being smacked in the face with a boxing glove full of incorrect.
I febreezed. I went outside and took the trash out, and then went downstairs and put in a load of laundry. I walked back into my house.
I wish I could tell you what the smell was. It wasn't a bad smell. It wasn't a chemical smell (it was a little chemically, I guess) and it wasn't a citrus smell and it wasn't a fruity smell. It wasn't stinky like cheese or sour or sweet. It was ... off. And somehow wrong enough that every time I went out and came back in I was startled by the smell.
Being exceptionally laid back, I decided to let it go. Whatever, right?
(You didn't fall for that, did you?)
The Smell was making me CRAZY. What WAS it? Where was it COMING from? WHY was it only in the kitchen? ARGGGGHHHHHH!
I was hot and sweaty and tired and a little bit toasted from being in the sun in the excessive heat at the beach. I was anticipating a nap in the air conditioned glory of my living room. But I couldn't. Because of The Smell.
And thus the cleaning began.
First, the fridge. Everyone out. Some things were tossed. The shelves were cleaned and the plastic sparkled. (Please note: I checked my new cleaners to see if they were the source of The Smell. They were not. They were distinctly different from The Smell.)
I breathed in the scent of lemons. Happiness. I took the prisoners of the Refrigerator War out to the dumpster, stopped in the hall, and then opened my door.
The Smell laughed at me.
I may have, at that point, cursed. Repeatedly. For about five minutes while I walked around, sniffing things. Sink ... no. Counters, no. Cupboards, no. Under sink sometimes stinky compartment, no.
Maybe I should clean the oven.
You know what's really NOT super fun on a 92 degree day in July? Cleaning your oven.
I did it anyway. It was traumatizing, but I did it. Now my oven was clean. I ran the fan to disperse THAT smell, and then pulled all of the burners off of the TOP of the stove, and cleaned those. I used my fabulous Method stainless steel cleaner that smells of apples until the stove sparkled in clean gloriousness. I made ANOTHER trip to the dumpster and returned to my apartment, sure that The Smell would be gone.
I got my Method almond wood cleaner and attacked the cupboards. Almondy goodness. I cleaned the sink with the stainless steel cleaner. Apples! I cleaned the counters. Lemons! I ran the dishwasher. Pink Grapefruit! My house smelled like a produce stand. I went outside and came back in.
The Smell. It was still there.
At that point, I started questioning my sanity. I don't know if olfactory hallucinations are possible, but I thought I might be having one. In a last ditch effort, I washed the floor. And then I laid down on it and gazed, exhausted and dehydrated, at the sparkling clean, if somehow smelly, kitchen that I now possessed.
My cat walked over to me and licked my face questioningly. (She was either checking to see if I was alive, or demonstrating that she was concerned about the fact that it looked like I had lost my mind. I'm chosing the latter.)
I got up.
"Screw you Smell," I said. "I quit. I've done all I can."
When I woke up this morning, my kitchen was gleaming quietly. The refrigerator hummed. The coffee pot twinkled.
And The Smell was gone.
This was worth a celebration. This was worth -- coffee. Which, though another smell, is at least one I can identify.
(Hey, you! Yes, you there. Reading. I wanted to let you know that "Gone to Carolina" will be on vacation on Thursday and Friday of this week; new posts tomorrow and Wednesday, and then I'll be back on July 25th... Thank you, as always, for continuing to read!)