This week’s assignment was to write a post about a sound or scent that brings you right back to your past. Ichose my mom and her favorite perfume, Fendi.
I slammed the phone down, tears stinging my eyes. Before they could fall I pushed away from my desk, too fast and too hard, almost tipping my chair.
“God, she can be so infuriating some days” I mumbled.
I just wanted to talk to her about the day to day stuff, the things that didn’t have a real answer, just ideas bouncing off each other, a place for my frustrations to softly land. Instead, she has advice, and tsk- tsking, words of wisdom that I just don’t need right now.
My friend, Ann just shook her head and tried to contain her giggle.
“I need a minute” I announced and left the office, walking as fast as I could in 3 inch heels, not sure where I even wanted to go.
I walked, past cubicles, around the conference room, into the atrium and avoiding the ladies room, because I want to avoid the questions of well meaning friends.
“How are those gorgeous boys?”
“OOH do you have any fun stories about those boys of yours?”
Well why don’t you ask her? She seems to be better equipped to raise them than me; she has all the answers and the ability to reduce me to a foolish 6 yr old with these phone calls. I am quite sure she’d love to regale you with stories and anecdotes of their days.
Lost in the anger of that thought, a woman hurried past me, tapping on her phone and late for her class.
Just as I thought about taking a deep breath and going back, I smelled it. The sultry mix of sandalwood and amber, a scent that reached into my brain and pulled memories from it as if it were picking apples off a tree, it snuck into my nose and lingered just like that scent clung to her for days, long after she has spritzed and sprayed herself.
Her perfume, that woman was wearing her perfume.
I sat down on the bench next to our fake indoor waterfall and inhaled, the undertones of rose and musk mingling with their top notes. The essence of her in every breath I took. That particular bottle is like an open door to my past, acting like a song when it brings your life back to you with every stanza. Her signature scent, as much a part of her as her eyes or her jewelry, it told her story, announced her arrivals, casting a wide net of fragrance whereever she went.
I remember a day lying on a table, warm blue goop on my belly, basking in the knowledge that we would soon know the gender of the babies we had all fought so hard for. I was stalling the tech, asking her to wait, we needed to wait for her. She pulled open the door, sticking her head out and told us, she’s not here. “Oh yes she is” I answered, “I can smell her”.
Did she know that I used to lay my head on her pillow when she’d be running out of the house, going to start her busy day and shouting back a plea to make her bed? How I would fill my nose with the bouquet of her and carry it around with me all day.
Can she imagine how burying my face in her chest as I nursed my numerous broken hearts helped to heal them faster, the balm of her hugs mixing with her fragrance, offering me something better than medicine? She cannot even guess, how I will forgo giving the babies a bath some nights because she has visited and her love is lingering in the strands of their hair, how I allow them access to my bed and sniff their heads looking for signs of her.
I suddenly feel so silly, so much of the naïve girl she had chided. She doesn’t know everything but she does love me beyond herself. She is offering herself to me in the best ways she knows how, eager for me to grow and learn lessons that she has lined up like those beautiful bottles on her dresser.
I neared my desk; the green light blinking, revealing an incoming call before my fingers could dial her number.
Her voice and mine, merging like only we can, the top notes and bottom scents uniting.
“I’m so sorry.”