"Strawberry Girl" by Jamie Kahn


Have you ever smelled something so good that it was nearly addicting? Something that wasn't food, but smelled like it should be. Or maybe it was food, but even chewing and swallowing it wasn’t enough. A smell that could only be described as delicious.

That smell, for me, was the inside of the VHS cases of the Strawberry Shortcake movies. When I was a little kid and my mom would put on one of the movies for me, she'd always tell me to smell the inside of the case, which was made to give off a strawberry scent. The scent wasn't just strawberry though. It was something better. It was fruitier smelling than the fruit itself. Sugary but not artificial. I loved it so much that I wanted to shove my face into the VHS case every time I caught a whiff. Sometimes I'd even open it and smell it when I wasn't watching the movie.

As I got older, I still loved that smell. I found it in Hubba Bubba strawberry smash bubble gum when I was twelve, and in a strawberry cream body spritz from Sephora when I was sixteen. It was only when I was eighteen and found it in a glittery lip balm at Spencer's and read the label that I finally knew what to call that scent besides "the inside of the strawberry shortcake VHS cases." It was simply "candied strawberry."

It really is strange, to go about life thinking something you hold dear is obscure and quirky and unique, only to find out that it was simple all along. As we grow up, we learn the names of things that we always thought were ours and ours alone, living only in our minds. I don't think I'll ever say "candied strawberry" though. It sounds too foreign, and sometimes things have to stay close to home even when we know that's not really where they came from.