Today my county eases into phase one of opening up. That’s three months of lockdown; a quarter of a year; a whole season, from snowfall to sunburn.
Here is an olfactory summary of how I spent this time:
A day into a conference for mystery writers in San Diego, the pandemic shut it down, and we all scrambled to find flights home. That night, I stood on my hotel room’s tiny balcony and watched sheets of rain before going downstairs to the restaurant, noisy with chatting authors, to catch up on industry gossip. I wore Ciro Danger in Extrait.
A few days later, I was out of a job. I spent my free time finishing Secret of the Blue Lily, a mystery centering around a Paris boutique specializing in vintage and discontinued perfume. I wore lots of old Lanvin Arpège, but my brain was focused on Lys Bleu, a perfume I invented for the novel.
Then my pickup truck was stolen, right out of my driveway in the middle of the afternoon. Who would steal a 35-year-old manual pickup? Why, devil-worshipping vegan meth addicts, of course. The police found my truck, totaled, a week later. Besides a sawed-out battery and smashed-in front, the truck had been spray-painted black and decorated with satanic symbols in turquoise paint and camouflage duct tape. Stickers for heavy metal bands covered the back bumper and window, along with “Food Not Bombs” and “Oatmeal Savage” stickers. The orange caps from syringes littered the inside, along with a strange black-and-white photo of a bunch of hippies sitting in the woods. The fragrance part of this story? The thieves hung a leather-scented air freshener from the rearview mirror.
Heartbroken and now truly stuck at home, I noticed my hair was getting dry at the ends. I hacked off bits here and there, and I ordered a bottle of Aftelier Ancient Resins body oil to bring it back to life. Mandy Aftel tucked in a rose-ginger chocolate bar, too. They both helped.
I’d planned to lounge through lockdown in a glamorous 1930s silk kimono I’d carefully restored and rinsed with Chanel Misia, but I’ve ended up wearing an old red Scottish cashmere cardigan to rags. Now it has holes in both arms, desperately needs a wash, and smells of twenty different perfumes. My two cats fight over napping on it.
Things started looking up. A friend of a friend sold me her 1999 Toyota Corolla. The car is a total granny-mobile and needed some soul. I gave it a signature scent: Arquiste Aleksandr. The glove leather and violet perfectly complement the car’s opalescent silver body. The patchouli really comes out on the upholstery.
To celebrate the new car, plus the release of Secret of the Blue Lily and the first draft of Seven-Year Witch (not scheduled for release until September 2021), I stopped by Fumerie, which had just opened for limited hours, to investigate a bottle of Oriza L. Legrand Relique d’Amour. Maybe its cool incense, lily, and beeswax could counteract the devil worshippers who had defiled my driveway. The fragrance was out of stock, but I’ll have a bottle yet.
At heart, I’m an optimist. For those of us lucky enough to be in good health, we’ll come out of this stronger and wiser and ready to change the world and our lives for the better. As spring turns to summer and spirits improve, Amouage Ubar has been a wonderfully sunny companion.
How about you? Any perfumes that sum up your pandemic?