In Memoriam

This essay was originally published on November 4, 2010, on the site

How many of us have loved and lost? I’m not just talking about perfume: friends, family members, spouses, pets…we mourn for different things in different ways, and no two are ever alike.

Three years ago, my life as I knew it changed forever. The details of this transformation don’t matter, but in coping with all the upheaval, I decided, who better to help get me through it than family? Turns out, this was the worst decision I could have made.

Those of you with close, reliable family ties might be thinking: how could family possibly turn their backs on one of its members? The answer to that question is: quite easily. This isn’t an essay written in anger, and as I said, the details don’t matter. What matters are the lessons we learn from our experiences. The lesson I’ve learned is this: no matter how awful things get, the only person you can rely upon when the going gets tough is yourself. Nothing and no one else matters more.

I’ve lost my entire perfume collection; all my Serges; everything. As far as I know, the bottles themselves are still alive and well, I am just being denied access to them. Unfortunately, they will be elsewhere in a few weeks time, and there isn’t anything I can do about that. Many of you know I’ve been living with my aunt and uncle in Toronto for the past year, and sadly, my relationship with my aunt took a turn so sharp that not only am I no longer living in her home, I am not allowed, by her mandate, to access any of my belongings except through third parties. I’ve joked in the past about my aunt’s intolerance to my fragrant endeavours, and always did so cheekily, and without rancour. But, our conflict now goes much deeper, and, I fear, there won’t be any reconciliation in the near future.

The casualties of this particular war are my material possessions. In making my move from the DC area in August 2009, I jettisoned most of my belongings. What’s left, I’ve realized, doesn’t mean all that much to me, including my bottles of fragrance. I’m not saying I will not continue to love fragrance; I always will, and I will continue to write here at the Posse indefinitely (or for as long as they’ll have me). Going through as much as I have for as long as I have, has made me realize it is impossible to hang on to everything. I’ve thought about the prolific disasters of the recent past: September 11, hurricane Katrina, the Thailand tsunami, the earthquakes in India, China and Haiti; not to mention others. Those who were lucky enough to survive found the will to carry on, despite losing all their worldly possessions. Thankfully, my situation isn’t anywhere near as tragic as those; but I have a grasp of what matters. The rest is just extraneous; including my perfumes. It might take me a while to get back to the Salons in Paris, but no one will ever be able to take away my memories of being there. The scents will live on in the same manner.

I’ve chosen to share this with all of you because writing it down is part of the journey. My ability to do so is something no one will ever deprive me of. That is the most empowering feeling I can ever know. Dissemination of information may not always accomplish what you want it to, but in this instance, the forum of fragrance goes much deeper than the actual scents. We revel in our knowledge and find solace in our common interests. Loving and losing is part of life. The loss may be a precious, irreplaceable vintage bottle of something, or it could be everything. In my case, the loss is all encompassing; but only metaphorically. The tangible items may be gone, but there is the hope of a brighter future, and even more scents to sniff and enjoy.

Onward and upward…

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