I was twelve. I had ridden my blue bike with multi-colored plastic handle bar streamers to the Woolworth Store to buy my favorite perfume. I loved to hear the clickity-click of the cards that I placed in my bicycle spokes. I was prepared for shopping with my white basket, painted with pink and yellow flowers adorning the front. The birds were singing, and so was my heart. It was a warm Saturday in 1958—a great day for being twelve. As I pedaled, I imagined the sweet lingering smell of roses in the Blue Waltz Perfume that awaited me at Woolworth’s counter and imagined the heart-shaped bottle with the blue top. I had tested every bottle the week before, but this was the special fragrance I chose to wear to my seventh grade dance. It was my first bottle of perfume, and it had to be the right one.
I parked my bike and raced inside to the perfume counter. My heart dropped. Where was it? I looked for the blue top. “Please,” I asked the saleslady in panic, “could you help me find some Blue Waltz Perfume?” She looked through all the colorful bottles and titles—pink, amber, and blue ones with special names like Perfect Rose or Midnight in Paris, but no Blue Waltz. She saw the tear run down my cheek.
“Wait a minute!” she exclaimed. “Last night when we were closing, I saw a bottle under the counter that another clerk was saving for a customer, but she never returned for it. It’s yours.” I held out my dollar, and walking to my bike, pressed the bag with the sacred scent close to me. I opened the bottle for one intoxicating whiff before placing it into my basket and pedaling home.
This article previously published touched down in the hearts of many who read it, for after it was published, readers started to contact me, offering to mail me either a reproduction bottle or a real one that had been tucked away in their closets. Every word enveloped my senses, and I hoped the details, drew the reader into my youthful experience of another time. Maybe you can identify with this memory. If so, we connected. Of all those who offered to mail me a bottle I accepted two. As I opened one of the blue-capped bottles sent from the generosity of others, the scent was just as I remembered, and once again I was transported to another time. I don’t plan to use the perfume; I just take a nostalgic whiff whenever I need a trip down memory lane.
We hop on a plane for many reasons. Flights take us to exciting destinations and opportunities or deliver us to circumstances that may be painful or difficult. Our words take flight too, as we carefully choose ones that will bring hope, a story, or a smile. I cannot remember a time when I didn’t write. I was shy, but in my writing the words flew, my heart opened, and my emotions spilled out. Notepads became my companions, wanting only to be used as they were intended—for words to dance across the page with the thoughts that only I could share.
I believe we serve God through our unique abilities. Over the past fifty years I have written for many periodicals, including those faith or educationally based. Linked with my writings are the adventures my husband John and I enjoy planning and doing. So I have incorporated our love of adventure with my love of writing in my two outdoor devotional books, In God’s Creation: Devotions for the Outdoors and In God’s Creations; Devotions for the Beach.
I also like to write “where I am planted.” For example, my husband John is a hiker, having just finished section-hiking the Appalachian Trail that weaves its way from Maine to Georgia. One way we have chosen to inspire hikers is to place our trail newsletter along the way. Some hike for the challenge. But there are others who find solace if they are facing a difficult situation. We hope that the backpacking tips and interesting trail information that John writes, and devotional I include will lead the reader to think about the Creator of the beauty around.
Writing memories, sharing hope, relating stories. What a fun and endearing way to connect to readers! Now I pass on what I have learned to my Christian writing group. It is a pleasure to assist others in their word flights. Do you like to write? Buckle up and get ready for takeoff.
Barbara Baranowski is a published writer and inspirational speaker devoted to family, educational, and spiritual issues. She lives with her husband John in Roanoke, Virginia and is a retired middle school teacher. Follow her website, inspiredsenior.org