First ballet shoes

The pink of the leather turned out to be a lighter shade than I’d hoped, it looked like the underside of a kitten, and the sole was a dirty grey cat’s tongue, and there were no long pink satin ribbons to criss-cross over the ankles, no only a sad elastic strap (…)

Zadie Smith, Swing Time

I remember my first ballet shoes. After being accepted to the dance school, my mum took me to Porfirios in Rua Santa Catarina to buy the light blue leotard and skirt and that same kind of faded ballet pink leather shoes. I don’t actually remember the details but I remember the smell of those very first ballet slippers.

Scent is, in a way,  charged with history (…) the sense of smell is, as McLuhan stresses,” iconic”. In the same perspective, we could also say that it is the narrative epic sense. It brings together, weaves and condenses historic happenings into an image, into a narrative composition. 

Byung-Chul Han, The Scent of Time

Scent gives us back who we are by conferring some kind of stability to our own narrative, allowing us to make sense of ourselves by composing some sort of self-portrait. My childhood smells like new ballet shoes. This is a scent I have tried in vain to reencounter. New ballet shoes don’t have that exact smell anymore. In October last year, I bought new shoes. I prefer canvas to leather now and split soles and pre-sewn elastics. I haven’t been to ballet class yet. Life or some other excuse has been in the way.

It was also the aroma of possibilities, once they’re gone, they’re gone.

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