the comfort of scents

Thursday, July 17, 2014


I have a signature scent. I never really thought such a phrase would pass through this blog, but there it is. The scent in question is MCMC’s perfume, Nobel. It’s highly jasmine based. (Which I didn’t know until I read about it online after I bought it.) All I knew when I smelled it was that it was the most delicious and wonderful scent and I wanted to smell like that all the days of my life.

Almost a year ago, I bought a vial of the perfume oil with the last of my birthday money. I'd never bought perfume in my life. At the time Steele and I were homeless, bouncing back between Ali’s parents house and Julia’s empty room. I swore to myself that I wouldn’t use the perfume right away, not until we found a house, because I wanted it to remind me of our new home and not the weeks we spent living out of our suitcases.

But I could never resist the vial balanced on Ali’s heavy dresser. Every morning I woke with a heavy heart and rolled it onto my wrists. When I inhaled I felt safe. So I told myself, this won't remind me of homelessness.




We weren’t homeless in the real sense. In any sort of real sense. Just in the sense that we didn’t have our own home. Ali was in Michigan and I was using her red jeep to drive myself back and forth from the city to look at apartments, back to her house in Lake Oswego. We were extremely lucky to have the most generous friends.

But still, having a home is what anchors me. I’m a homebound creature. Without it a deep hole opens up in my chest and I sink down, down, down. Steele and I were coming off our month of Europe and we were very precariously balanced, as a couple, and nothing was really going right, and I was in the real world without a job, without a home, without a purpose. But I had this scent on my wrist and it comforted me to smell it. So every morning, as I rolled it on my wrists, dabbed it behind my ears, I told myself, this won’t remind me of homelessness.

Finally we did find a place. A little one bedroom apartment. Rough around the edges. Enough room to hang our wooden shelf in the bedroom. The vial was placed on top. Everything blurred together. I still roll the oil onto my wrists every morning. And it doesn't remind me of homelessness.


It reminds me of the summer air whipping right through me as I drove the red jeep to the city. The drive was right by the river, through some woodsy bits, and the air was cool. I had bought a new cardigan and was always wrapped in it on these drives, the wind just enough to chill me. The perfume soaked into the wrists of it, so that I was always wrapped in that scent.

It reminds me of that forward motion. Without an anchoring point the only thing that made me feel better was driving. To move forward. It was only an illusion, but my heart rose up on the road. Because on the road you have a destination. You belong somewhere. For me, the road leads home. And Nobel, my perfume, always brings that sensation back to me. That feeling of going home, moving forward, being wrapped in a cocoon, being safe. 

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