Assuming I haven’t been hit by a bus, I’m off to an undisclosed location with the Big Cheese for the rest of the week celebrating our 20th anniversary — which is, in fact, today. It’s hard to believe we’ve been married 20 years; it feels like three years and 70 simultaneously. His brother is watching our kids (sucker!), so they won’t be with us, and we won’t have internet access. I guess we’ll have to think of something else to do to fill the time. I have some ideas.
The blog still appears to be named Perfume Posse, so in theory this should be a perfume post or, if not, one of my sappy treatises on fambly dynamics. I guess I’ll aim for the middle.
My obsession with perfume arose out of pretty much nowhere a few years ago, connected to nothing. As with any passion acquired later in life, my perfume addiction has required my domestic partner to develop some patience and a modicum of understanding. Well, mostly patience. As I type this I notice the scent of the retro-fab Dana “Gardenias in the Snow” is still wafting up from tissue paper it leaked onto in the mail, tissue paper now in the trash can under my desk in the office the Cheese and I share. The smell is like a big white floral presence wearing maybe a little too much face powder. Given that this is where I open the mail, our office is littered with small envelopes and boxes and the air is always reeking of something. I try to keep my endless bottles and decants and vials out of the way, but I don’t think you’d have to take more than a few steps anywhere in my house to find some fragrance to sample. (We won’t discuss the nail polish. The Cheese is gritting his teeth and pretending not to notice that burgeoning collection.)
I have often replied to the perfume question with the answer: because it makes me feel happy. But that isn’t entirely accurate. A better answer would be: because it makes me feel. Because perfume became, perhaps by default and in place of, say, opera or baked goods, the quickest way to trigger my emotions. I’m not sure how good a perfume critic I am, but I’ll never be a dispassionate or objective one. I just walked around the second floor. It’s raining, hard, and has been since last night – the road through the woods down by the creek is closed. I can hear the water gurgling in the gutters and dripping from the eaves and hissing down the brick and across the driveway, dripping from the leaves of the roses nodding their heads outside. The air is humid but cool, just the way I like it. My guest bedroom has taken on a tangible air of nostalgia – it’s where most of my vintage fragrances reside. I suppose I should be worried, the perfume smell in there means something isn’t properly sealed. Instead, each time I walk through that room on the way to the library to read, I am transformed for a few seconds into a willowy girl from an earlier era, wearing a shirtwaist dress, red lipstick and sassy shoes.
Perfume trails me everywhere. It reaches out to me from the hall table, the armoire in the bedroom, from beside the toaster in the kitchen, from the counter in the laundry room. I have created a house of ghosts – laughing, pleading, mournful, playful. I wonder whether anyone else living here sees them, feels them the way I do. I sniff my wrist, lost in time, standing in front of the kitchen sink making dinner, or at the bathroom mirror. Or while reading contracts at my desk. Driving my children everywhere, running errands, always running.
The road we’ve been on for the last year is pretty weird. I don’t know how I got here, and I sure as hell don’t know where I’m going. But I got what I wished for – an interesting life – so I’m not complaining. Just turn the radio up and hand me that little bottle, it’s vintage Mitsouko PDT. It’s the bees’ knees, it really is.
I’ll see y’all next week. Perfume, I promise.
Photo: I know I’ve stuck this up here once before, but that’s me and the Cheese (center) on our wedding day, this pic still makes me smile.