10 Sensory Pleasures That Make Me Inordinately Happy
1. Soft Fabrics
The other day, I went with my mother on a department store outing to get some layers for autumn. I had my eye on practical things, and easily skimmed past lacy blouses and miniskirts, UNTIL: the back of my hand brushed past the softest thing I had ever touched. “Oh hold the phone,’ I thought to myself as I turned to look, only to see the most beautiful white faux-fur vest at my right. At first glance, it looked far more frivolous than practical, but it had all the appearance of a soft newborn puppy. A minute later, my mother found me with my arms wrapped tightly around the thing and my face buried in its synthetic softness. “Veronica, you’re in public!” she said. Lost in the sweet, sublime joy of the softest jacket I had ever touched, my eyes teared up like Gollum’s at the end of The Return of the King. Two hours and several coupons later, I was in the car still snuggling the damn thing. George Costanza had it right in Seinfeld when he said he wanted to be ensconced in velvet forever. There is no sweeter sensory joy.
2. Words like “Inordinately”
I’ll admit it, I’m a nerd. A nerd who loves words. I’m actually enjoying my GRE Vocabulary list, because there’s a distinct pleasure in learning new words. They say that the word “jonquil” is supposed to be the most aesthetically pretty word in the English language; and you know, there is something to it. There’s something to the beauty of a word typed in different fonts, or written in the hand of a loved one. There’s something fun about saying “tintinnabulation” out loud. And there’s the physical feeling of a word washing over your tongue like a wave, rolling past your cheeks and your palate. Say “dog” in English and “diga” in Spanish, and feel how differently the letter “d” builds up in your mouth.
3. Hot Laundry right out the dryer
Oh come on, do I really need to explain how awesome this is? Sometimes when I visit my parents in upstate New York, my mother will be doing laundry as I hang out in the house. No matter where I am, she’ll find me and jump up behind me throwing a hot, newly-dried blanket over my head. It is the sweetest thing.
I’ve never been able to ally myself as either a cat person or a dog person. I tell people that German Shepherds are my spirit animal (fact), but I also do a mean impression of a kitten. But any given morning on my way to work, if the opportunity to pet someone’s dog arises, frankly that sets a precedent for the entire day. Not too long ago, I had a job I hated. But there was often an elderly gentleman who used to walk his giant yellow labrador by my bus stop nearly every morning. And the days I got to stop and say hello, and give that big furry thing a hug…time seemed to fly by at work those mornings. Coincidence?
5. The feeling of satisfaction upon entering a warm cafe to shelter yourself from cold and rainy weather
When you get caught in freezing rain, as tends to happen in many of the cities I have lived in, there is no greater relief. When you’re trudging through the cold, and you close the door behind you, it’s like being welcomed into Hogsmeade for a hot Butterbeer. No higher relief in the universe than to feel a piping hot porcelain cup inside your frozen hands. If you take coffee, I highly recommend replacing milk with Bailey’s and whiskey. And if you’re a tea drinker, half a shot of rum will warm your insides.
6. The smell of grass being cut, leaves falling, and other suburban sensory delights
Over the past two years, I’ve seen visited my parents for a total of maybe six days at maximum. In part because I have been too busy or too far away, and in part because I had always hated the suburbs. But after over a year of being away, I went on a bike ride through the woodsy neighbourhood my parents live in–and I remembered what the sound of kids on tricycles is like; I smelled pine and felt oak leaves crackle under my tires. I got to see WASP-y suburban dads mowing their front lawns, the air around them smelling of cut grass. An afternoon like that gives some credibility to theories about Nature Deficiency Disorder. Sometimes you just need a sun-bathed nap in the park, or a bike ride through the woods. No headphones, no conversations, just you.
7. Coming home from the supermarket with fresh bread, only to realise it’s still warm when you get home
Ok, I refuse to elaborate on this one. If you have never experienced the sublime delight of this event, you have not lived. And if you think the taste of hot, crumby bread with a crackly crust are overrated–you are not human.
8. The feel of kicking off your heels after a long night
I can handle several hours of dancing in stilettos, or a full day at the office in comfortable pumps. But five-plus hours (or more, in places like Spain) of dancing, walking, and drunken revelry is an Olympian feat (haha, geddit). Last New Year’s Eve, I spent over eleven hours in my highest heels dancing, socializing, and running after my ill-behaved friends until the pain got so bad I had to take a cab the last two blocks to my house. No culinary, aesthetic, sexual, or emotional pleasure could have felt better than I did when I plotzed on the living room sofa and kicked those shoes off. When it hurt to walk the next day, I knew something was afoot (heh heh)–and I quickly learned why it’s so dangerous to wear heels habitually. But that’s another story.
9. Runner’s High
The fact that I often spend at least 90 minutes in the gym means nothing. I force myself to go, just to learn good habits; but too many times, if I don’t have the energy, I just get lazy about my work out of the day. But on those mornings when I’ve had enough sleep, when there happens to have been half a can of Red Bull in the fridge, or the stars align some other way–those days, I’m on the treadmill like a five-year-old on the playground. I’m blasting bad pop music on my earphones, I’m breathing, and I am setting new personal records with my little legs. The second I push the stop button and take a sip from my water bottle, a rush washes over me and lasts all day. The notion that my body can produce its own drug blows my mind.
10. How Mom and Dad Smell like Home
I’ve already mentioned that I no longer live with my parents, and I’m much happier for it. My mother and I bicker, my dad and I yell about politics, and nobody can agree about how to hang toilet paper on the roller (over or under). But being able to come home after a long time away makes you appreciate a few things. This can go for visiting any loving relative. But my mom doesn’t get to see me a lot, and she’s very liberal with the snuggles when I’m around. And you know what, while we may disagree on almost everything, Mom always smells like home. My mother smells like clean laundry and European perfume. My dad smells like the hospital he works at, like office paper and Old Spice. And my beloved grandmother always smelled of an Eastern European glamour I hope I one day inherit from the women in my family. Home for me was never a place, it was always people and smells and memories. And indulging my overly-affectionate mother in a hug is the least I can do. Alright, I’ll admit it, it’s kind of nice.
What are some of your favorite sensory pleasures? Name some of them in the comments!
Written by Veronica Glab
Top image courtesy of Flickr user David Adamson