In Remembrance of Things Past, Proust is brought to recollection by the taste of a madeleine dipped in lime-flower tea. I can’t say that flavors do all that much for me. But scents, now, ah … that’s a different story.
I used to spend a lot of money on perfume. I rarely wear much makeup, but I did wear perfumes — different ones, depending on the season or occasion. I liked Elizabeth Taylor’s Passion, briefly had one I really loved called Gilda by a Parisian parfumeur named Pierre Wolf (sadly, no longer exists), and for a time wore Givenchy’s Amarige, until my mother-in-law decided she liked it. My favorite, though, was Trésor, by Lancôme. It was my “summer” perfume, and I wore it a lot.
Yesterday, when I was waiting for Eyemasters to finish my glasses, I walked around Macy’s. The perfume counter is right by the door, not far from the opticians. Initially, I had decided to go there because I had a character in one of my flash fics wear “Bellagio for Men”. I picked it off a list and had no idea what it actually smelled like. They didn’t have it — either it’s no longer popular (which is okay, because the character in question was dead) or it was too expensive for them. I walked around and looked at the women’s scents, trying a couple. This exercise taught me that I didn’t like Amarige any more, no matter who wore it, and I tried a newer perfume I already knew I liked — Vera Wang’s Princess. Then I stopped by Lancôme and tried on Trésor.
Just the first whiff of it, and I was back in 1986. The memories were so strong! As I’ve posted before, the early 80s were not a good time for me. But I would have liked to be back there — my mistakes were unmade then and (like a lot of people) I would give so much to change the choices I made — to choose not to do things I did, and to do the things I should have.
One of my “rainy day”dreams is that I could go back and inhabit myself, and guide myself away from the choices that were bad, all the while keeping the good things I would still like to keep. The feeling is even deeper, as I approach my 50th birthday. There are so many things I won’t ever be able to make right.
This morning, the strength of the perfume has faded, so I’ve turned to another way of triggering memories — music. As I’m writing this, I’m listening to a playlist of Sade’s songs. This is music which reminds me of that same era, and brings back many of the same feelings.
How I wish I could turn back time …