As February has turned to March, and April to May, it is finally deliciously hot, or at least it was yesterday – just like summer. One night there was extreme lightning and thunder : we sat on the balcony watching the torrential rain and the Spielberghian strikes in the sky, but then just blue skied bliss, fragrant flowers opening everywhere, and bright sunshine. Radiation. Ultra violet light. Time has lost its meaning. I am not quite sure where I am. And I have to confess to feeling unmoored and not quite there. All this anger and frustration and resistance to everything – the story of my life in many ways – has exhausted me (I am still the only person not going in to the office……..I feel guilty, like a pariah in isolation who has meaningfully deserted the sinking ship except that in reality I am doing my part….recording lessons and sending them off; receiving and correcting homework from students via private email, and am gradually getting used to this way of doing things, kind of…………I am just not prepared to sacrifice my life for it and this, to me, is the finest compromise.) Still, stuck here, and knowing they are there, it does cause a stress that permeates the blood stream like a permanent low grade fever. It is always out there, isn’t it? The myriad of situations. Responses. Infections. None of us knowing what is going to happen next. This weird uncertainty. Life on pause. I wonder how you are all also doing at this point, reading this wherever you are, as we apparently start returning; ‘ opening’……..
This peculiar interiority, where you are forced to come to some kind of reckoning with yourself. All this time in your own skin. It feels harder to escape home truths. To both try and evade reality – to keep yourself preoccupied – but also be simultaneously compelled to analyze it all – your situation, the country you live in, the world’s – so much more deeply. And maybe this is a good thing, in the long run, even if sometimes I feel as if I am sinking inwardly. Led by my own anchor – which is heavy. Out there is the world. Inside is just you, or the person you are with. Or the cat, gazing out, blissfully aware, preening in the sunlight; glad that you are home with her. Or just your bottle of wine and the trees turning green outside your window. Perfume to retreat into (the heart is a cage.) Insularity, for self-protection.
Before the virus, I would sometimes on a Thursday before my evening lessons in Yokohama walk down Isezakicho high street and look for any perfume bargains I might find at affordable prices. In truth, I rarely splurge on a full niche bottle when they cost around 20,000-30,000 yen here on average; I am more likely to do so for a present for someone else than for myself as I like the luxuriousness of the gift, but when you can find those perfumes for a fraction of the usual price for daily use it is a joy. In the winter on one occasion recently I picked up a full bottle of Sisley Eau D’Ikar quite cheaply, which I am truly loving right now for its green, somniferous quality that makes me feel like I am dozing in the shade of a grove in Crete. Blissfully escapist. In the winter I wouldn’t even have considered it a player and had actually forgotten about even having it until the other day but what delight. The same could be said yesterday for Montale’s Jasmine Full, which I had unthinkingly bought on a whim for around thirty dollars back in January but wore resplendently yesterday for the first time, actually layered with the Eau D’Ikar – one on each arm, and sprayed on a hoodie (Jasmine Full is certainly the right name for this perfume alright: this is not the prime but overabundant French style jasmine (grandiflorum) that is blooming and rotting left right and centre everywhere right now in Kamakura in suburban hedgerows – to an almost nauseating degree, but rather a single note more brilliant sheeny soliflore based on the whiter, or yellow Indian style jasmine variety whose flowers have a completely different appearance and are at once cooler, greener, while ultimately more indolic once they get wreathed into twists and wedding garlands and suffuse the air with their generally optimistic and booming floraceousness.
Yesterday on the street – social distancing, though it still hasn’t entirely caught on yet – I must have been standing about two metres away from Mr and Mrs Mitomi after I ran into them and their grandson Kodai as I was about to go on yet another bike ride, as we were standing there talking (sleepily, all of us a bit less sharp somehow, these days; are you also ? I am personally feeling like something of a moron as though my IQ has retreated; I feel dumb) – she said to me after a couple of minutes of not much speaking…..Waaaaaaaah, what is that beautiful smell? It’s gorgeous. Sugoi ii nioi. Is it coming from you?’ I said ‘You mean the jasmine?’ and she said ‘Yes. Jasmine I love it’. Daisuki desu yo. I flushed, slightly, embarrassed at the extravagance of my odour, but I also really liked the connection of it (having seen them on the street in truth I almost avoided them and went the other way; could I be bothered to actually make conversation? and that is the thing about all this hiding away; you become more sociophobic, withdrawn, and interaction seems like more of a physical effort); but I was pleased that I decided for once to do the right thing instead and to be sociable as this ‘perfumed moment’ was also a physical connection. Jasmine Full is a perfume that would certainly penetrate the clinical confines of a face mask, bring colour to a black white and grey situation (the whole world right now). It brightened the day. Yesterday I sat in the late afternoon sun wearing my two perfumes, comparing wrists, and felt eased; aesthetically contented at the very least. It’s nice to wear old favourites, but also to bring in the new….