Our six senses is one of the easiest pathways to memory. According to Mary Karr, the sense of smell is one of the oldest.
“I had a friend who is a neurologist say that it's the oldest sense -- the primary sense is smell. Animals can smell changes in territory. Even one-celled amoeba, who have no brainstems, can smell. So much feeling is attached to it.”
Currently I am reading Karr’s The Art of Memoir and she is hitting all the right notes. So many questions new memoirists struggle with are covered in her book. Here is where you can link to for an interview about the book: http://www.splendidtable.org/story/mary-karr-memory-is-what-you-can-smell-touch-and-taste
A few years back I wrote a piece called Sense of Smell which was included in an anthology based upon small memories (what I call flash memoir) “Sense of Smell” Spring 2012, IMPACT: A Collection of Short Memoir
The piece emerged simply from standing at a corner waiting for the light to change. Spring time. The lilacs in bloom. And BAM! That’s all it took=memories came rushing upon me.
Right now, write using your sense of smell. What will it take to arouse some long-sleeping memory: fry oil, lilacs, laundry detergent, cinnamon? Wake up and smell the roses.