By now, we’re all hip to the pandemic. We hole ourselves up, register the death toll, panic over our checkbooks, and take our temperatures. I sincerely hope every one of you is healthy, and that your loved ones are, too. Stay home, and take care of yourselves.
But, let me drop my usual blog persona and get real. I live alone, and I’ve been in social isolation for almost four weeks now. I've had a varied life, from waitress to congressional investigator, but today my living comes partly from writing and partly from being a shopgirl. Half of my income vanished with the pandemic, and the other half is on life support. I have my moments, and although I’m not at all a cryer, I’ve suffered a few bouts lately.
Yet, I feel lucky. I’m healthy. I enjoy my own company. I live well on a dime, and, better, I know how to appreciate the little things in life. Like perfume.
In fact, I’d go so far as to say that the pandemic has driven home how the little things are the big things. Friends, early morning bird song, clean sheets, a hot bath, a well poached egg: these things add up to an understanding of how our day-to-day interactions are the foundation of larger decisions. When we truly value day-to-day life, we work to sustain that goodness for others.
I know. We’re here for perfume, so let’s get down to it. Here’s how I’ve been making the most of perfume in these surreal times:
Social isolation means I can wear as much fragrance as I want. Plus, I’m feeling nuts enough to overdose on some of the heavy hitters I’d never wear more than a dab of in normal times, for instance, Yves Saint Laurent Opium. Not long ago, I splashed myself silly with vintage Opium Eau de Toilette and discovered how beautiful it was. It combined itself like a spicy-woody-labdanum-laden puzzle, and once that puzzle snapped together, it was finished. Later, I overdosed on Guerlain Shalimar — another fragrance that can be way too much in public — and appreciated layers I’d never experienced in “social” applications.
The shock of the pandemic reminded me that we’re mortal. So, I’ve been using the “special” perfumes, and using them big time, even though there’s no one else here but me to appreciate them. I’ve just about drained my beloved Rochas Mousseline Extrait by Edmond Roudnitska, and my decant of Lanvin Scandal Extrait is done. I’m not stinting on the Amouage or my Xerjoff Irisss. I’m enjoying every single drop.
I’ve also been leaning on the easy, comforting fragrances — the toast and butter of the perfume world. For instance, I just fumigated myself with Sylvaine Delacourte Florentina. The bottle feels good and heavy and round in the hand, and the fragrance is a cloud of powdery comfort tinged with my favorite note, iris. It’s my dream mother. Arquiste Anima Dulcis — another satisfying, round bottle full of drinkable notes — is draining rapidly, too.
These are my private pleasures that keep me balanced and happy. I supplement them with a 1920s kimono I rescued from a thrift store and mended and washed with a rinse of water tinged with Chanel Misia. I also cook elaborate recipes with simple (read “cheap”) ingredients. I watch free movies on archive.org. To pretend I have some control over life, I make daily task lists on index cards, and I’m catching up on my TBR list. I indulge in regular video conferences with friends.
I also fret that I’m not accomplishing enough and that my life won’t be changed enough by this rare time out. Shouldn't I have a spotless house? My next book should be finished. Plus, how about those five pounds I want to lose?
But, enough about me. Tell me about you! How are you coping with the pandemic? Does perfume play a role? Tell us!