January 5, 2012

When scent strikes.

I opened a new bottle of perfume today. Not my usual kind of fragrance but an inevitable excursion.

While waiting for my train, I fix my hair and make a movement that creates a thin veil of fragrance that makes a whispering dance around me. It is unlikely anyone else feels it, but I do, because it is close and because my nose reacts to a different scent that I usually have.

And then it strikes me, with a force that completely stops my heartbeat for a second.
What I am wearing must, MUST, be the perfume that my grandmother had when I grew up. Because suddenly it is as if she was standing next to me, as if I had just opened her handbag like I used to do as a child to look for hidden treasures (there were always some), it is as if I wrapped one of her silk scarves around my neck (like I used to, it made my 11-year old self feel very glamorous). And I never knew, I never even thought about it. My grandmother died when I was 16 and I was in shock over this for years. It never occured to me that it could happen, not to her, because she was eternal and she was like an extension of me, and explanation to me. At 16 I had not started to think about perfumes or fragrances, I was interested in dancing, painting and older boys who looked good when they danced and not much else.

I grew up with my grandmother practically constantly present. There are many scents that I have associated with her but they have been associated with her garden and her kitchen. I never knew what fragrance she wore, although my mother later said it was Chanel 5.  In fact, I do remember the bottle in her home, but I felt no obvious connection when smelling it.

Not like today. My grandmother was the essence of femininity and creativity, playful, curious, had a fantastic sense of humor and a complete lack of understanding to boring rules. I have missed her tremendously.

This moment today swirled and crushed my heart at the same time.

This is the power of scents.

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