“The most beautiful woman in the world, when she goes to see her lover… when she takes all else off, what is left? Her voice and the scent of her perfume.” -John Paul Guerlian, House of Guerlian**
The sensualist in me finds a truly dangerous tipping point dancing very easily into hedonism when it comes to the sense of smell. I think my love of all things that have the possibility to edge toward stink started with loving the smell of wet earth left at the nose when whiffing off rocks licked as a child (a behavior I was taken to the doctor for by my parents as I could be found doing this before I could yet speak… if I had words available at the time, I could have very easily told them this was not done due to some mineral deficiency, but rather to enjoy the intoxicating scent of the hint left of wet earth on stone). To this day a walk smelling the air just after a warm rain is one of my favorite things to do. So begins with this memory, another bit about my love affair with all things olfactory.
Continuing on in my life, there was that first grown up perfume I had, gifted by my dad, chosen as it was one a high school guidance councilor had worn (it was only years later as an adult that I discovered it was her choice due to it’s ability to mask the smell of a drinking problem which had tipped into school hours!). I think the love of the olfactory is also why I have a passion for linens and all things having to do with laundry. When I have had my own laundry space in the place I inhabit, this becomes the scented soul of my home, complete with antique soap dispensing jars and a nod at apothecary-esk beauty. No chore feeling is possible when the clothes washing process is elevated to a sensual task in a location based on scented, alchemical art (emphasis placed so that when N reads this post he will remember why the state of the art laundry room in our urban highrise building is a place I do not relish visiting : …flip a coin with you over who gets the pleasure of addressing the full hamper currently making it’s home in the closet?!)
Joking aside, how touching is the care taking that can be done when we tend to the coverings that are sported on the bodies of those we love. Doing the laundry for ones family is a wonderful way to show how we feel about them without using words to do it (although it is also fun to tuck love notes to randomly be found inside clean, folded socks 🙂 ). In my case, unbeknownst to many mothers out there, the smell of their son’s clean clothes won and lost many a boy a date with the teenage M… one whiff of them and I just knew.
Right now N and I also share a clothes closet in the space we currently call home. One of my secret pleasures is opening the doors wide, sticking my head in and inhaling. It provides a heady hit of the mix of an M&N scent blend (Thrown in also is a little L smell, too, for Luke our G*R*E*A*T smelling cat. He loves to explore into the crevices and nooks at the back when the doors are left open… the smell right on the back of his head is one of my favorite scents to smell in the entire world. I would describe Luke as smelling of warm and slightly sweet chalk!). When next you get the chance, head to your own closet or wardrobe and stick your nose in… welcome home to your gifting yourself experiencing one of your own sacred smell sanctuaries!
The trajectory that really actually inspired the beginning thoughts for this post though, is that the time has come for me to pick a new signature scent to wear on my rental car as I move along my path. After a chunk of good years, the perfume I currently have has ceased to inspire me and it is time to let it live on in memory only. The M of today has grown past it’s ability to satisfactorily surround and support me as I move in the world.
As simple as this sounds (meaning to go out and pick a new perfume) this is not how this process happens for me. It can take me months and months to find the perfect fitting present, supporting moving into my future, smell.
Why is this such a complex task for me? I find that at times I think I chase the creation of memories anchored through scent. For a scent to capture me, it requires a complete seduction that adds enriching layers to a moment frozen in time. Just one example of this is how one whiff of sage mixed with salt and I am instantly transported to the summer nights in the desert landscapes of my childhood!
Another scent I will never forget smelling in this way, hit my nose spontaneously over a decade ago when I was doing a deep breathing exercise with the intent and technique geared to expanding ones consciousness. At a certain point during the process, the most heavenly smell hit my nose. The only way I can think to describe it is as a spiced incense waxy white flower with a green into golden smelling earthy stem. However, the really curious thing about this smell is that the source for the odor seemed to originate from inside myself. It was my first experience of smelling a smell as not coming on the air during the in breath, but rather it was distinctly smelled on the one going OUT! It was intoxicating. To this day I can smell this scent again in my minds eye as clear as if it just happened. However, the only other time I have ever smelt anything that came close to it in the world around me outside was years later when on a visit to Peru. I arrived late on a misting night in Lima (did you know it never actually rains in Lima?) at a hotel with a small inner courtyard enclosed by several stories of the building surrounding around it. There was a fountain, night blooming climbing jasmine, a lime tree and lots of tropical green plants. The mix of those smells trapped in that warm, enclosed humid space was divine. It was as close as I have come to smelling that inner nirvana smell in the outer world again.
And later… (about a month and a half since my beginning of writing this post)
Well, some time has passed since I began writing this post. Time that I spent not focused on sharing with my words here on this blog during July. But, it was still time well spent none the less. During the past month, off to Lucky Scent went more money than I care to admit for a bunch of perfume samples (saving me a flight in for a smelling trip to LA… no offense to LA, but you are not a favorite city). I also sent away for a sample of every scent made by the imaginative and inventive natural perfumer Mandy Aftel:
She gets HUGE points from me for including a handwritten note in return with my sample order, along with a complimentary tin of her custom mixed tea. What a class act and conscious creator this delightful woman is! Wearing part of her imagination as it was dreamed into being smelled was inspiring.
However, the hunt for my new scent continued on elsewhere. But as of today after over a month and a half of lovely smells, I think the search is finally at an end. After sending away for dozens of other samples from other independent and small all natural scent houses as well, I knew the one that would be mine the minute I mixed a custom blend from the olfactory artist at For Strange Women (and yes those who know me well can laugh as the” if the shoe fits, wear it” of a name is also a good description for me 🙂 ).
I am looking forward to all the wanderings upcoming in my life and the cloud of scented yumminess that will travel with me. In the places I will be going, I will move trailing the close to the skin aroma of saffron, mint and a very “this is not your grandmothers smell” of roses drunk on cardamon and frankincense. I am smelling simply divine today… and all while I am still working on remembering how to smell my own divinity again as well.
Take a moment where you are as you read this and close your eyes. Take a deep breath in and smell. What aromas hit your nose? I would love to hear from you about what notes come into your awareness as you do this. What does smelling in your world remind you of today?
I wish for us all a happy nose and great scents as the smell tracks for all memories we will each be remaking in the days to come.
“Perfume is like cocktails without the hangover, like chocolate without the calories, like a love affair without tears, like a vacation from which you never have to come back.” ― Marian Bendeth
**Paraphrased from the documentary (part 1 of 3)