Led by the nose

Last week as I had my hair cut, I chatted with my hairdresser about the power of certain smells. He correctly identified my perfume (Marc Jacobs Daisy, since you ask) and how certain fragrances are so strongly identified with a time in our lives or a certain person that they acquire a significance which lasts for years. We chatted about exes, and I told him about managing an alcohol at work problem where the staff member disguised drinking with a certain perfume that I can no longer bear.

And then tonight, it hits me again. If you have read this blog before, you may remember that my best friend died of cancer. When we were teenagers, she went out with my brother. Tonight he texted me to ask, ‘What perfume did Julie wear?’. And I remembered it. Anais Anais. I can see the bottle on her desk/dressing table. I can smell the perfume, on the big baggy jumpers we both knitted, coupled with the silk hippy scarves and scruffy jeans. The smell in my nostrils, from nowhere but my memory reminds me of nights out at the pub, before we were old enough to drink, of the time she poured cuticle remover into her eye rather than eye drops, of the time when I picked her up from her boyfriends house because she realised he was cheating on her and I turned up in my dads van. I miss her. So, so much. Our female friends are so important and to lose the first friend you make on your first day at school is a huge loss. I miss our normality, I miss the easy silence, the casual greeting on the phone, our ability to watch the same programme over the phone. All that. In a single text. About a perfume.

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