One Man's Stink is Another Man's Treasure

Last updated: March 2021

One of the hardest parts about moving, for me, has been trying to feel comfortable. With so many aspects of your life being uprooted, spun around, and settling somewhere else, comfort is almost entirely left to the side. You’ve gotta find a new place, sort through everything you own, and debate on living your life as a stuff-free nomad.

Basic necessities are comforting

I personally find comfort in my basic necessities. The things I’ve found I cannot live without and help me unwind and lower my guard!

  • My back pack filled with my computer, charging cords, relief medicine and water
  • My TV and video game consoles
  • A bed

Sure, these pillars are what make me feel comfortable, materialistically speaking, however…

What I struggle with the most, are new people and, especially, new roommates.

Walking into a strong smell

See, my girlfriend had found some roomies online when she made her own big move to NYC, before my own move, so without any sort of background check or picture to speak of, I had the fortune of being introduced smell-first when I walked through her doorway.

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That sounded crass and first impressions have never been my strong suit.

This person did not emit some sort of poisonous or noxious cloud nor were they especially leaky. I’ve surely had my stinky days as have y’all, but it was her cooking that did me in.

I walked in after a long drive through queens, to find her roommate frying chicken with hot, stanky oil. This stench was so strong it nearly burned my eyelashes off. I’ve had fried foods before, but that unpredicted stench of oil and… vinegar?

How do I say the scent is a trigger?

Nearly tore my a** a new migraine. How could I share my triggers with this stranger? I am a guest in her house and it’s not her fault that her food scorched my nose and brain like napalm?

A couple of days later, I was sharing this encounter with my mom, and she said something pretty interesting.

Oh, I know what you mean. That smell of fried grease and oil used to fill up my grandma’s house. But the longer she did that, the more it reminded me of her.

A fresh perspective

Dang. I had been looking at this from such a cynical perspective that I hadn’t even considered this. Here I am, dragging this girl for her cuisine prep, when to my mom, it would have reminded her of home and my darling great-grandma. It’s wild how one person’s stink is another person’s loving memory.

Maybe this is special to my girlfriend’s roommate too. Perhaps these are traditions passed down, like my mom’s mom passed to her. No, this sentiment won’t make me hurt less, but I’ve found myself less angry and more compassionate to someone’s cuisine. Am I projecting my own life’s journey on a stranger to justify not having to speak up? Perhaps.

All I can do, as somebody’s brand new guest, is try and feel comfortable in my own body. Is that my social anxiety talking, or my willingness to adapt? That’s why I actually put my mask back on in the kitchen. Not only did it help a ton, but I was able to avoid migraine for the time being. I may not be as lucky next time, which why I’ve always got that backpack with migraine meds to ensure max comfort at all times!

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