All I have been able to think about is getting the second shot in my arm. And in D’s. That’s all. The wait has felt like sheer purgatory. And so the week before we were due to receive the injection, teaching the beginning of the ‘summer seminar’, both very present and yet entirely absent, I just had to get. through. the .days until our cherished appointment at 9:00 am Sunday morning at the vaccination centre in Yokohama.
Perfume wise, I had soured on grapefruit, having worn too much of my Malone Vetiver Pamplemousse during the grey and humid rainy season; one day I just suddenly found I couldn’t wear it any more. With the gloriously hot weather – both mine and D’s favourite time of year by far (he is already on holiday for five delirious weeks, and coming back to himself, slowly, after months of internalization and sociophobia : where I explode outwardly, he goes inside to hidden recesses and sometimes gets slightly lost: but just being able to potter about and read, make videos, do some DIY, just be, I can now feel him rehydrating); I feel like flowers and celebratory scents that exude wellness and optimism.
Givenchy’s remake of L’Interdit – a pleasingly brainless little number – just smells of grape bubble or chewing gum with a hint of 80’s tuberose. Since at work I quite like to sometimes smell of grape gum – Japan does some amazing chewing gums that work almost on the level of perfume; a tiny piece of Xylish Grape enough to surround you with a fruity aura that garners compliments, I suddenly felt like doubling down on the note and wearing L’Interdit as well. Slightly worrying that this might end up disastrous – I am usually more careful about my weekday scents, I found myself spraying it on against my better judgement because what the hell – and ended up having a grapetastic two days. With a tattoo of woodyish/oud/musk that is toned down enough to smell quite masculine by the end, I taught some kids’ classes and felt surprisingly natural. Slightly rambunctious. Even, indeed, somewhat ‘forbidden’. Remembering that I had a small sample spray of the perfume somewhere ( because you know I would definitely drop and smash the bottle if I carried it around in my bag ), I eventually located it and put it in my wallet in order to be able to have a top up on the way home, grimacing as I did so when the horrible cheap patchouli oud vanilla hit my skin and couldn’t nasally comprehend what had happened; what the hell had gone wrong. . ……….I then realized that this was the edp – a nasty duty free typical affair, a real scrubber, whereas the more edgy edt – fresher, and so much grapier, though simplistic and rather unsophisticated, has something uncomplicated and fun that I am definitely drawn to.
Sunday morning eventually : finally : came. I wore vintage Sisley Eau Du Soir. I don’t know why. I wanted to keep the chypre theme – it had been Couturier’s Coriandre for the first. I had to ground myself. We were so excited. Jubilant, actually; it felt like we were off on foreign travels ; up bright and early, a sense of anticipation, seeing the city go by knowing it was the last time I would be in this situation unprotected; and the mood at the vaccination centre was similar, a bunch of tattooed construction worker types getting the shots under the aegis of my company’s programme – taking the shots that had been refused by some of my colleagues – an exuberant mood among them also (I am beginning to realize that the issue here in Japan is that due to the lack of overtness and an inherent need for ‘ambiguity’, and an avoidance of ‘shocking facts’, the coronavirus itself is extremely ‘mysterious’ for many people. I don’t think the symptoms are well enough known; the severity; nor the existence of Long Covid; so the vaccine has somehow become more scary than the illness itself). True, as the day wore on – we went for a Thai meal in Izekakicho and wandered around the junk shops as usual, elated, so delighted to have finally had both jabs, drinking beer in the sun, which was a bit silly —. we started to feel peculiar, tingling in weird places, some strange aches, and by the evening sitting on the balcony, did start to feel oddly ‘disassociated’.
The next morning, admittedly, we both felt terrible and couldn’t get out of bed. It was like having the flu; sensitive to the touch, aching, headache. I slept for fourteen hours and couldn’t move. But it had passed by the following day, and in any case it just felt like evidence that it was doing what it was supposed to. I can’t understand how anyone wouldn’t put themselves through one day of discomfort when the purported benefits are apparently so huge. The relief is absolute bliss. The last eighteen months have been like hell. And in comparison this really does feel like heaven.
Which is probably why I found myself reaching, on Tuesday morning for Penhaligon’s Gardenia. A reworked reissue from 2009 of a classic from 1976 (I would love to smell the original), this is a blue-print summer gardenia with the expected supporting flower notes of orange blossom, jasmine, and tuberose, the main theme a beautiful gardenia violet. It is the violet note that I love here; powdery, green; wearing it to work all of last week it made me feel elegant; genteel; the right level of sillage; a floral benevolence. I felt that it was almost bringing me closer to the students as well, though that might have also simply been because I no longer regard being in their proximity as something potentially lethal. I think this is going to be my choice of scent, now, until the summer holidays. I only have ten days left until the end of what has been a dreadful, dreadful school year. But I can definitely now feel the light at the end of the tunnel. In fact it’s like I am already bathing in it.