A rose by another name and yet it calls with a scent so sweet. To fall into a color, it's warmth like a dip into the sea.
I need perfume in my life, in all of its forms. Admittedly, it is my olfactory coffee or glass of wine, seeing me through from morning until night. But those liquid elixirs that we dab and spritz--or walk through in a cloud à la française--what magic they make. I have been thinking about this since yesterday, after reading yet another fine post by Lanier Smith at Sents Memory. While Lanier usually writes an exquisite short story inspired by a certain perfume before reviewing it, yesterday's discussion fell to the House of Guerlain, one of my favorites as their long-standing use of quality ingredients endears their products to my fickle red-head skin.
Different scents for different lives within lives or even lives within a day. It is a tool of the least utilitarian sort possible, to cajole or coax or proclaim certain aspects of who we are or wish to be. When I was acting, I would always choose a perfume for my character (my favorite match being Fendi's "Theorema" for the role of Cleopatra) and a quick inhale at the wrist backstage would always cement me in the circumstances. These days with my memory as wobbly as a child in her mother's heels, I can reach back in time via certain perfumes as directly as Proust biting into that spongy madeleine.
A bag made of red voile is tucked in the back of my medecine cabinet, one that previously held a welcomed gift of Rouge Hermes from my sweetheart but now is a retirement home for nearly empty bottles of deeply loved scents. I pulled it down gingerly, knowing that I had something from Guerlain in there. Ah yes, Jicky. Created in 1889, it was something of a revolution, being one of the very first to use a mix of essential oils and synthetic molecules and the first to be designated by the word perfume. Take that, Coco Chanel.
I annointed myself with the tiniest bit and inhaled. It smelled differently somehow! Had it turned? No. Had I changed? Yes and no but that wasn't it. But oh, it felt wonderful to be wearing it again, to be wrapped in something so...familiar...Later in the day that nagging feeling hadn't left me. A quick search on the internet gave me the answer--Jicky's olfactory notes? Lavender, rosemary, bergamot, rose. Yes! La Provence! How hadn't I thought of it sooner?
In this context, it evokes something else entirely than when I wore it roaming the steely corridors of Manhattan. I no longer need a ticket to escape but can take in the blossoming roses all around me. A rose by another name and yet still as sweet.
I am wearing it now...
--Act Two, Scene Two. "Romeo and Juliet" by William Shakespeare