Some have asked if Jim is an autobiographical character. He is so specific that I think he seems real to people. He is not, but the idea for him comes from my life. When I was four, my family moved from Austin, Texas to Lonoke, Arkansas for my father’s first preaching job. Before we left, my mother took my twin brother and me to the post office. There at the counter I saw a little girl and became instantly smitten. Later, in Arkansas, we went to the post office and it smelled exactly the same. I got a rush of butterflies for the girl.
From then on, I became more aware of smells and how they affect me. I wanted to visit that post office because of the smell. It made me feel good. It’s an odd thing that a post office should give a little kid butterflies, but perhaps I was an odd kid.
So I thought, what if a man’s good feelings were so strongly associated with the smells of the past that he could no longer experience positive experiences in the present. What if the only way he could feel good was to re-experience the smells? It’s a sad sort of person, but also interesting.