Memory lives in another place, the room at the top of the stairs where all painful sharp edges have been removed. The rotten parts of the body of the memory have been scoured away by nature and time, and the wounds are just thin white scars. All that is left is the purified essence of a place/time/person/relationship – the complexity fuzzed up to be a gorgeous faded tapestry on the wall that you can’t see clearly anymore. The memory is soft, shabbbily beautiful. You ignore the fraying because it isn’t important now because that memory doesn’t live in the present – it is safely in the past.
Cinnabar in the EDT/EDP was the first perfume I picked solely on my own. My first grown-up girl perfume was Estee Lauder Private Collection. I picked it only because my Aunt Nelda wore it, and she was so chic and smart, I trusted her taste implicitly. Never mind that I was probably 10-20 years too young to be wearing it. I was 19. One day I sniffed Estee Lauder Cinnabar at the Macy’s perfume counter, probably around holiday time. Amber, spice and incense. This was like Christmas Day come to visit, and it settled me mentally in front of the fire with my cocoa and flannel nightgown.
I wore this for years off and on, mostly in the winter when the heavy orientals are so magical. Then one day, probably the same day I got rid of all my clothes with the 2-inch thick shoulder pads (well, except that one red dress with the cinched in waist that I can’t bear to part with) I stopped wearing it, moved on to Chloe or KL or something sunnier.
The years of Estee Lauder Cinnabar took me through my first brief marriage to a man that was wild, destructive, lying, cheating, funny, gorgeous, smoking hot and in possession of the most beautiful pair of blue eyes I’ve ever stared into. That’s a memory I never thought I would be able to look at without doubling over in pain. Not because I loved him that much, but because he came close to destroying me.
And I loved him a little bit less than that much.
It took me years to smell Estee Lauder Cinnabar again. Cinnabar in the EDT is nice, but it wasn’t until I smelled the pure parfum that I got the distilled memory of Cinnabar and the bleached, beautiful memory carcass of that time with that man that was so wrong, but made me laugh as none have since. Cinnabar in parfum smooths out the edges, lets me drink in the richness and comfort of feeling so warm and alive but with none of the pain. It lives in a beautiful gold room with red carpets at the top of the stairs, and I like to go up there and rock from time to time by the fire.
So why in the world doesn’t Estee Lauder bring this back permanently in parfum? Everyone has that perfume that brings back a chaotic or magical time in your life that is filled with intense memories, don’t they?