Each and every single time I go into my bathroom and closet area, whether it's time to get dressed, wash my hands or (heaven forbid) actually use the bathroom (alone!!), it's not long before I am surrounded by one, two or all three of my boys (naturally, my black lab follows them, too). They have a way of knowing when I want privacy. I often brush my teeth and threaten my kids at the same time. I ask that they stop fighting and/or practicing karate on each other. You'd think I (or they) would give up by now. But no, not at all. They love to open my drawers, rummage through my belongings (not all appropriate for my young children), and lastly, they love to sample, spray and touch my perfumes. Everybody who knows me knows that I believe you can never have too many black bags, shoes, dresses or perfumes. I often (actually always), finish a quick shopping trip by sampling and sometimes purchasing a new scent. Bottom line: I have a lot of perfumes and therefore my boys have a lot of material to work with in the bathroom.
One night recently, as I was drying off after a shower and getting ready for bed, my middle son handed me "the round nice perfume." (Cacharel's Noa perfume.) Ironically enough, my middle son's name is Noah. He handed me the perfume and insisted I put "the bedtime perfume" on. I was impressed. Out of the 20 perfume bottles that sit on my vanity, Noah picked the one I always, without fail, put on before bed. The scent is light, airy and soft. Putting on perfume before bed reminds me of my own mom's bedtime rituals and my childhood good-night kisses. Ironically, I had recently switched my night perfume. I guess Noah was asking me to stick with the old and ditch the new.
The fact that Noah paid close attention to my choice in perfume was surprising, but what really got me thinking about the significance of fragrances was an equally surprising comment my oldest son made. I was tucking him into bed before heading out to an adults-only birthday event. As I kissed and hugged him, he asked that I hug him a bit longer and tighter. He said, "So your pretty smell stays on my pillow. I'll think about you when I fall asleep." Come to find out, Dylan used the term "pretty smell" for the perfume I use when I have makeup on (which is rare), and have taken the time to brush my hair (maybe twice a year!). It's funny that he knows that when I get dressed and go out at night I like more musky scents and usually use Cartier's Baiser Volé perfume.
The two comments my sons made got me thinking about scents and the awesome ability a perfume has to take you back -- sometimes five or ten years -- right back to an exact spot and time in your life. A fragrance alone can put me under the chuppah, as a nervous and eager 25-year-old about to marry my husband. Likewise, the Chance Eau Fraiche for Women by Chanel can take me to the beautiful beaches of Barcelona, where my siblings, parents and I spent some wonderful summertime trips.
When I look now at my vanity and see the many (too many, if you ask my husband) perfume bottles, I can't help but wonder if this collection really is a photo book of sorts? I often get upset when I grab a perfume that I swear I just bought, only to find the smell has faded and the liquid color has gotten yellow. Then, I smile and remember the time and place I last used the perfume. It was, in fact, a long (more than I would like to admit) time ago. The personal scents we use not only leave temporary aromas on our clothing and seat belts, but they leave a lasting, if not almost eternal, mental picture and memory. I guess that's part of the magical quality of perfumes -- both new and old. They represent time periods and places. If we do collect them, like we do memories, I guess I'm on the right track -- you can never have too many. I'm not ready to chuck my digital camera or close my Shutterfly account just yet. I am satisfied, however, knowing that we can make and keep our very own memories. One more good reason to sample and perhaps buy that new fragrance.