This is happening, and it is glorious. I am not the only woman of my generation who has a story to tell about these fragrances. In mine, it always starts with a darkness outside. It's either nighttime, or late afternoon in a deep winter, or a gray day where the sun decided to sleep it off. It always starts with a basketball game in the gym, my bare legs glistening in their Juniper Breeze lotion, the cold air shocking them into goosepimples.
I am 15 and cheering at the game, arms flailing, legs kicking. I am 15 and in my best friend's Geo Tracker, listening to a Beastie Boys cassette. I am 15 and wearing ripped jeans and Doc Martens and my Varsity Cheerleader tee shirt on my way to chemistry lab. I am 15 and driving through the Pine Barrens, or along the coast, or into my parents' driveway, or into the 7-11 parking lot, Tori on the radio. I am 15 and ready for anything, except not really, not at all, because my readiness was just a mask for my general fear about life.
I spent a lot of time in the locker room in high school; changing from gym clothes to my cheerleading uniform; changing from my cheerleading uniform to street clothes; changing from a shy teenager to one who stood in front of a crowd in bare legs, bloomers showing with every stunt. And that locker room smelled of Victoria's Secret, scent mingling with scent -- Plumeria, Cucumber Melon, Raspberry. Body odor. Wet pom-poms. Decades of locker room grime. Thousands of teenage girls.
In that locker room I made fun of a freshman girl who stared at herself in the mirror longer than anyone else, only to learn months later she had been checking to make sure her pregnancy wasn't yet showing. In that locker room I burst into tears when my cheerleading coach, who'd been acting weird for weeks, told us she'd miscarried twins. In that locker room I sank into a corner whenever a certain girl would enter to glare at me, until one day I decided she didn't matter; I wasn't afraid of her.
Sometimes I don't know which memories of the locker room are mine, or which are memories of locker rooms I've stolen from books. But I'll never, ever forget those scents; the signature smells of my locker room stories.