• The Scent of Memory
  • Author avatar
    laura james
  • memoryparisperfumescent
The Scent of Memory

I once came across an article titled "Scents of Adventure" written by Mary Louise Parker detailing a trip to a custom perfume house in Paris she took with her daughter. A few weeks after their trip, MLP opens the bottle her daughter created and the memories of their time together in The City of Light washes over her. She wonders if her daughter will respond like she does to scent with memory being so closely tied to it that she "...even followed a woman down the street because she was wearing my mother's perfume (Shalimar)...".

"That one was designed around a Memory."
                                                                                              -Olivier Royere to MLP

Her musings resonated with me since I have for years described my tether to jewelry as more than just Shiny Object Syndrome. The enchantment of Jewelry is also very Memory-based for me. For instance, I can think of some of my earliest childhood friends and remember Vanessa's Aquamarine studs; Brandy's Emerald ring; Sarah Bisland's Opal band; McClean's Star Ruby ring... and even their memories of who gave the jewelry to them (McClean's parents brought hers back from a trip to a land faraway...India, I believe- her ring was my first time to ever see a Star Ruby or learn the word "Cabochon"!). 

Maybe we are all wired this way to Memory in some shape or form, but MLP's story gifted me with a recollection from over thirty years ago to my late Grandmother, Ruby Frances McCharen's love for Quelques Fleurs by Houbiqant. I can hear her recite the name right now in her thick, deep Southern rasp that I can only compare to Dame Maggie Smith - sans the European accent. I can picture that slender frosted bottle of "faaanntsy" perfume on the nightstand and from there on I get to travel further down Memory Lane: to my Grandmother's bedroom and into the kitchen... flour (as always) on the black and white tiled floor and a sizzling cast iron skillet on the white enamel stove. The blue Crisco can close by promises her famous fried chicken with rice and gravy. It's Mississippi, afterall. 

Thanks for the trip down Memory Lane, Mary Louise. I am glad your piece prompted me to pull an oldie out of my memory vault. If we don't talk, we forget  ...and I am glad you are talking. 


Laura S. James



  • Author avatar
    laura james
  • memoryparisperfumescent

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