I find myself back in England.
In the grim rain, yesterday, such a cliche of my country, the continuing 36 hour day of one minute closing the door to our house in Kamakura and the next dragging my suitcase up the stairs to my parent’s house and looking out onto their garden (see picture).
Immediately handing out perfumes for my mother, then going to her collection upstairs and of course spilling some of the carefully sourced vintage (because it is her favourite perfume of all time) Van Cleef First eau de toilette bought by Olivia for her birthday or Christmas, all drenching its beautiful, pristine green jasmineness into my pyjama trousers, positively symphonic in its aldehydic majesty, but not what I was hoping to wear to bed (the room I am writing in this is still very filled with its luscious smell). You forget, sometimes, that perfumes are not always vaporisateurs, but dabbables….
What’s very strange about this rather impulsively decided on trip is that it was supposed to be in August. That was when Duncan was hoping to come back initially as he gets more holiday, but I knew, instinctively, and categorically, somehow, that selfish or not, I HAD to come back now, to be with my family and friends in the flesh, not just on FaceTime, in the spring holidays to absorb the Englishness and all the green and whatever else might possible occur, so he will join me later. But having been on a kind of institutional Japanese conveyor belt of trauma and its aftermath – surgery, rehab, clinics, back to work, entrance exams, deep in me, psychologically and emotionally (and physically it has felt to me) I simply had to get myself OFF this charred and bruised continuum and just come back here (home?) for a while – it felt like an emergency. Though I may be a disenfranchised citizen now, with no right to vote (in either country), and no access to health care here, the trees are enough, it’s all in me, what I like and what I don’t, the air, the changing sky – you can’t ever get away from your home country, its light and its heart, no matter how long you live somewhere else.
But listen to this.
After I had booked the holiday and had the tickets all set, last week, completely out of the blue, I had an email from my literary agent in London saying that a publisher is potentially interested in my perfume book idea (finally!) I am going for a meeting with them next Monday. Just now, at this particular time, while I am actually in England.
Then, not only am I am going on some kind of perfume speed dating with Personaise at Selfridge’s next week, but we are also going for a private meeting with Christine Nagel AT Hermes, in Bond Street, later TODAY to get a sneak pre-view of the five new perfumes she has created for Hermes (people, how exciting is this?!!), (just got up and am drinking coffee and when I finish this I will hop in the shower, spruce myself (what to wear, what to wear?!!!!!) and get on the train down to London Marylebone.. ).
Before THAT (and again, all of this happened after all the dates were already set and unchangeable ), I get another completely unexpected email, perfectly timed, asking me to be a judge at the Fragrance Foundation at a hotel today in Mayfair, choosing finalists and the winner of the Best Independent Perfume ( the very day after I arrive! when in fact, I was supposed to be at my students’ graduation party – they expected me there and it was very naughty of me to have to excuse myself, and I did want to go there and congratulate them – we had some excellent results this year – but something in me knew that I wanted to get here, instead, as soon as possible; if I had not followed my impulses and gone against what I was supposed to be doing I would have missed both that and Hermes and would have been gnawing my fists in frustration). Somehow my partially psychic instincts knew all of this in advance – I don’t believe that it is coincidence.
The excitement is great. And I can tell you, after all the difficulties of last year, all of this is EXCEEDINGLY WELCOME.
Naturally, I will be keeping you all abreast of what happens, but is all this not bizarre?