She looked up from the table and asked, “What perfume are you wearing?” We were sitting in a restaurant deep in the French Quarter of New Orleans, doors swung wide, a humid breeze dragging its feet through the summer air. All I could think was, “I’m wearing sweat, good grief, what is she smelling?”
“Nantucket Briar by Crabtree & Evelyn. Why?”
She smiled and said, “Oh… I don’t know… it reminds me of my mom.”
I wanted to ask, “So, did you like your mom?” in hopes that I wasn’t reminding her of someone she wanted to throttle. The warmth in her eye suggested she liked her mother very much, though, and satisfied me in a way she couldn’t have imagined.
I chose Nantucket Briar as my signature scent precisely because I want my children to have a scent memory of me smelling just like this. Nantucket Briar is a crisp, green scent, laced with sharp lavender and what for all of the world smells like brittle bark or, I imagine, briars. It smells like browns and greens and light purple and white.
Though, according to Crabtree & Evelyn, Nantucket Briar smells like wild briar rose, bergamot, ambergris, spice and vanilla. Apparently there isn’t any lavender in it at all. I suppose “clean dirt, bark, and spikey flowering herbs” wouldn’t sell as well.
The scent memory I want my children to have of their mother is that of a woman with wild, windblown hair, softened by salt, as though she just walked from the beach through a bit of forest full of fairies and lavender. Clean but wiley. Unpredictable, yet theirs.
I put deliberate thought into my children’s scent memory of me. Granted, my ongoing battle with showers probably isn’t helping my cause, though Nantucket Briar does come in a body mist. You know I would know that.
Scent memory is real. Looking into the softened eyes of the woman across from me, I could see her go someplace else, someplace long ago, someplace warm and inviting with adoring embraces and eyes squinting from happiness. I learned later that she very much loved her mother, for many of the same reasons I hope my children love and remember me.
Of course I am crafting my children’s memories in subtle ways. I am a writer. I craft experiences.
Do you have a signature scent? Do you have several?
What do you think will lace your children’s scent memory of you and their childhood? What is your childhood scent memory?