I don’t think we even ourselves realize the impact that this year has had on us. Yesterday I met my old friend and music partner Yoko (had it really been more than a year?). It feels like longer but also as though it could have been last week. Time itself has changed.

But in that time, except for Duncan, I realize that excepting perhaps two or three nights of socializing since February I basically haven’t seen anyone. Yes, my students, but that is work : a performance. I often feel isolated and lonely with my colleagues – nice people, busy – which is why it felt almost monumental meeting Yoko yesterday for two hours of piano duet practice on rented grand pianos in Zushi : pounding out Tori Amos songs and classical pieces, the sonoroties bleeding out like prisms of the wooden church-like building flooded with natural light; it was as if all that had been building up over the past few weeks ( when in truth, as will be apparent, I almost lost it ) were finally given an outlet. I hadn’t played for over a year but yesterday we really PLAYED. Sometimes it is like sex, when you forget whose body it is and you dissolve into the universe; when instinct takes over and the music is playing you…… this couldn’t have come at a better time.

Lunch at an old fashioned Chinese turned into five hours. My god the pleasures of in-person conversation: I had almost forgotten it. With a partner you have a symbiosis : often silence in the moment is pleasure; D and I can have long conversations into the night but there is so much unspoken absorbed into our house that we needn’t.

Yesterday Yoko and I spoke in torrents : life, love, family, death, reincarnation ( she lost her mother two years ago and still hasn’t come to terms with it) but has two wonderfully eccentric, ( psychic? ) children who see her through. Suddenly at one point I found myself crying – finally something had pierced through – not a common occurrence for me but in the connection, the shared history ( we have been playing together off and on for about 23 years; done recitals and fully fledged concerts together ), the lack of artifice or polite encasements or having to choose my words carefully the floodgates were opened. And it felt immensely, and purifyingly, cathartic.

The dreadful toilets at the restaurant we stayed in.

My bicycle parked outside Strawberry Fields antique shop in Kamakura earlier today.

This morning I realized I had lost my glasses (a much more common occurrence than public weeping ), but it is a glorious day today – sunny, about nineteen – so I decided to ride down to Zushi via Kamakura to see if they were in the restaurant, meeting the D in his lunch break and having a quick look in Strawberry Fields, a place I haven’t been in a long while.

Stacks of Ricci

A favourite of Robin’s

Rare Shiseido

Damn my batteries are running out..

I am sat in a beautiful place down by the sea


Filed under Flowers

24 responses to “TREASURE

  1. Maureen Gardner

    I always want to comment on your wonderful essays … but never feel my words can do justice. So I’ll just say thank you. For yet another completely surprising, absorbing and thought provoking essay. How I wish I could write like you. It’s like wonderful poetry. I’m so pleased you seem to be posting more and more lately. Just what we need as the days of 2020 tick slowly yet hurriedly by.

    • Thanks Maureen (and please do comment more often!)

      This was just me having gone to the shore and tapped it out quickly on my phone while the batteries were still on – I wanted to write more but figured it would have to do.

      I was extremely grateful for yesterday – I felt like a different person today.

  2. Georgia Kossifou

    Loved that!!! ❤️❤️❤️
    Sooo jealous, how can there be such treasures in abundance.

    • I know!

      I am doing an online vintage perfume thing for Art And Olfaction in December, so reckon I need the Patou for it. Physically don’t have the cash for it right now, but if they are both still there come pay day (in two weeks) I could pick you up the other 1000 if ya likey.

      We can settle our scores in England in a duel at dawn

  3. Nelleke Oepkes aka Booknose

    I always have remembered the phrase “His tears came like summer rain” ( the almost poemlike Dutch translation) in The wind in the willows.
    Yes, tears can be a treasure. And music is such a gift. I can almost hear the playing when reading.

    Love the images! Treasure them too.

  4. Treasure indeed! I can certainly relate to the “before,” and crave the “after” in your story.

  5. emmawoolf

    This is just delightful. Such treasures (is there really a no 5 Eau de cologne). I can picture the day so we’ll. Almost exactly 12 years (12!!) since my visit xx

    • Is it ? I would not be able to tell you.

      This shop is about 5 minutes from Duncan’s school.

      How does Japan feel to you now when you look back on it ?

      • emmawoolf

        I’m not sure. Quite a lot as happened since the visit. I’m not the same person that visited, although maybe that’s no bad thing. Connections to the place still exist: the owner of the language school where I work is Japanese, so we have quite a few Japanese students. I teach a couple of them in the afternoons and really like them. We talk a lot about cultural differences, and I find the place fascinating. I’ve just finished reading Convenience Store Woman, and I remember our post-dinner trips to the 7-11 for packaged cakes and the like. Will I ever return? I don’t know. But certainly hope so x

  6. OnWingsofSaffron

    I am somewhat at a loss for words, but your narration shows the depths of your feelings, perhaps despair at the current situation. You describe it as if a a blockade (partially) dissolved or as if your back was freed from some horrific lumbago. I hope that lovely N° 19 eases the way back.

  7. Robin Razzell

    I haven’t read anything this uplifting in a very long time.

    When you can really rejoice in a person’s happiness and release of emotions you realize you have a good friend. Your duet and dinner with Yoko was the very thing you needed.

    It has been an isolating, discombobulating time. I see old clips of life before COVID-19, the life we took for granted, and I am sometimes moved to tears. It feels like we’ll never have it again, as though it is lost to us. But your experience gives me hope.

    All those rare bottles were like seeing a dream come to life. I got a little giddy seeing the sealed bottle of No 19 parfum. A woman — or man — can’t have too many, and I know the well has been running a wee bit dry lately. Delighted for you. And yes, that Miss Balmain. You are right. I find it very snuggly in a rainforest autumn. I might have mentioned I found a bottle of the parfum recently, the same box and all. A little strange that they were into plastic at that time — such a difference in presentation from the 1000s: those are impeccable, brilliant art — but no matter. And the Bal a Versailles. Whoo. And the Y. Oh, the Y!!!! I looked up Plassman Hilady to no avail, but it looks interesting. Same with the Japanese bottles. And that blue and silver Japanese perfume box. More art.

    I am glad you were moved to tears. Catharsis not only feels amazing, it is necessary, essential. Especially in these strange and alarming times. I must admit, this piece of yours put a bit of a lump in my throat.

    • Thanks Robin.

      The rawness and sincerity were very real on my part.

      And I will definitely be going back to the shop come pay day.

      • Robin

        By the way, when I wrote, “When you can really rejoice in a person’s happiness and release of emotions you realize you have a good friend,” I meant that that was my own realization! I was quite surprised at the strength of my happiness that you’d had that amazing time with Yoko. You deserve it, dear N.

      • We all do : my god ….

        Some genuine release after all that hideous compressed dread…

  8. It sounds as if your day with Yoko was the catharsis you needed. Oh how I wish I was proficient at playing the piano, alas I am not.
    Such wonderful finds, truly they are treasures. Oh how I’d love that Miss Balmain, and the Nina Ricci scents; L’air du Temps and Capricci. Fabulous!!
    Actually I would take all those amazing scents!!

    • I know. I was imagining you being there with me !

    • carole

      Ah, Brielle- I was looking at online reviews for Sublime, and I found your old post about Rochas Mystere. I was very touched by it. Were you able to find a bottle? I have the EDP-a big 100 ml. If you don’t have your own stash maybe you’d let me share some. I live in Canada, and I’m not sure which country you’re in. Please let me know if it’s of interest to you. It sucks to be without a fragrance you love.

      • Thank you so much Carole. You are truly generous and thoughtful. I’m glad you enjoyed what I wrote about Mystère, that was a while back.
        I actually have a 100ml bottle as well, and I adore it. Thank you again for being so thoughtful.

  9. Tara C

    Wow, beautiful treasures, photos, text, all of it is stunning! I had an execrable day yesterday and was still feeling fragile this morning. Logged into my Zoom yoga class at 7am and turned the camera off as I sobbed uncontrollably for five minutes. Felt like I could just not handle it any more, complete meltdown. But it seems to have flushed a lot of the angst out, for the moment at least.

    As luck would have it, I bought a piano right before Covid hit and haven’t been able to take lessons. So I’m trying to relearn it by myself, after a 40 year hiatus. Not good. But hopefully next year I will be able to start lessons and make some real progress. I remember how cathartic it was when I was young. I played piano, clarinet, flute and guitar when I was young, I would like to make music a part of my life again.

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