· By Zara Truman
Fragrance - a celebration of the Human Experience
Fragrance – a celebration of the Human Experience
My young mind amuses me as to what it chooses to hold onto. I can recall with ease my mother’s scent and be transported to a memory of saying goodbye to her every morning as I left for school. I can still smell a best friend’s perfume, and there I am: sitting next to her in period three maths. My brother’s scent fuming and filling the bathroom we once shared, now empty, as our youthful limbs are separated by the distance modern life likes to call ‘adulthood’ - I miss my brother, Dan. It is with fondness that my mind recalls these memories as my senses stumble across these scents on the coats of blurry faces that walk by. The universality of fragrance; an essence of love and care, encased in a liquid we like to bottle up and sell.
Fragrance to me is a sensory scrapbook of memories; a lifeline of loves lost and found. Emotions that have so deeply paved and influenced the woman who stands here today. I am in awe of the primal capabilities of scent, as I am drawn back to my mother’s arms at the smell of florals. Led back through the days of an overwhelmingly vulnerable keep your chin up coat of armour state as I doused my tired school jumper with a scent that whispered to me on insecure days ‘you are safe’. This to me is the definition of fragrance; a uniting emotional experience that cradles memories, nurtures connection and reminds one that you too are okay, you too are safe.
Perhaps that’s just it. We are beings created to love, lose and create. Our experience is enriched by the scents that ground us. I like to think scent plays with the idea of presence. For me to step into my most grounded self is to unashamedly coat myself in lavender this and lavender that. My friends laugh and roll their eyes, but the power of a scented rollerball is not one to be mocked. It keeps me believing in some funny type of modern day divine. The very make up of us encourages a radical chase for our senses to be enticed, stimulated and nurtured. Scent lies at the core of memories, moments and experiences. To love someone is to know their scent – smelling their kindness and touch on your skin for days after. To travel to a new destination is to soak in the unventured scents of a new culture. In this way, fragrance falls at the heart of our greatest emotional endeavours; a medium through which we tap into and celebrate the highs and heartbreaking lows of the human experience. How beautiful it is to recognise that our wildly individual stories are dappled with the common nostalgic narrative of scent.
Fragrance is a reminder of our courage as we show up to our everyday (in whatever form it may take). May that be in the youthful hours of the morning when a subtle sweetness clings on, or the familiar aroma of a new-found love tangled and muddled in the curls of your hair. Or, is it on the days where your heart hums for a home, as the scent of a lost-love sits foreign upon a strangers skin - the Tube now smelling of heartbreak - an unwelcome emotion on your morning commute. Why is it on these days does your heart call to be brought back to the hopeful, naive first date?
In this way, fragrance narrates our emotional landscape – reminding us of the adrenaline of life. With scent we are able to time-capsule our youthful, loyal and untested lives. A mosaic of everyone we’ve ever met, loved or lustfully desired is retrievable through the bittersweet nature of scent. Fragrance fuels the forgotten playful, innocent, sensual space found between two strangers, friends and loves. A space it seems even the darkest of winter nights and listening to Adele can’t quite hide. Believe me, I’ve tried. The nostalgia comes in like the tide and I welcome it every time. A memory of conversations shared, nights stayed up, novels whispered to one another when the race of life seems but a merely unachievable, cyclical chase. Here, fragrance carries ushome. Home to the comfort of familiarity, community, passion and love. It is a force that floods you with a curiosity: ‘what drives you?’, ‘what moves you?’, ‘what stirs you?’. Scent – a deeply humbling reminder that it is our primal nature of play, lust, and love which carves out our most precious encounters. It is with the turn of the years that our relationship with scent matures and meanders from comfort, to heartbreak, to home.
By Sarah Dooley