The last time I visited my mom I convinced her to give me her almost full bottle of Oscar de la Renta. I remember it from my childhood, and it's well preserved. 100 ml. She doesn't seem to have used it much. She kept it because she keeps everything (except, strangely, the bottle of Youth Dew I remember always sitting on her bureau; that, she can't find) and because, she said, she likes the design of the bottle.
I've given my mom several perfumes over the last several years (vintage Chanel No.19, Fath de Fath, Joy EDT, Tableau de Parfums Miriam). She keeps them all in a little decorative trunk I once gave her for Mother's Day. As far as I can tell, they're all unused, though she did spray on some Miriam that last trip. She got into the car smelling of it, and off we drove to Wal-Mart. So I felt okay taking the Oscar, especially as it reminds me of her in ways I want to be reminded. Otherwise it would continue to sit in the dark, well preserved and well wasted.
Taking a ten day trip - especially on the road - is a nerve wracking prospect for me, and not just because I'm taking it with my mother. Getting things out of the way is process enough. Making sure I won't be stuck in Denver without something I need and can't get there stymies my faculties to such an extent that I've ended up more than once the past few days sitting on the couch staring at the coffee table and all the remotes lined up there. Even harder: figuring out how many perfumes I can get away with bringing.
My mom said bring whatever I like. My sister wants a caramel cake so we're packing that - on ice. She wanted two (one for each hip?) but I'm not the best brother in the world and will be disappointing her on her sickbed. I'll be bringing a scanner which is the size of an early model cell phone (two stacked phone books in size) and every important document I own, so that I can work while I'm there and in case, I guess, something I can't imagine comes up, like a fire in Peoria, and the fire department calls me and asks when I was last there and did I have anything to do with it, and can I prove it. I'd love to tell you that I have every document I could possibly need for any given issue scanned already, but more likely these documents are spread across three different email accounts and ten different files or folders. This, among other things, is why I don't generally like to leave town.
A friend and I were talking about OCD and ADHD recently. I can't remember why. She knows me well, this friend, and I think I know myself pretty well too, so I was surprised when she said she thought I have a little of one or the other going on myself. I thought of this again recently when another friend interviewed me for a blog she's starting (she's interviewing people she knows and wants to learn more about, she says, so I talked her ear off for two hours, telling her, I'm sure, more than she wanted to know) and later asked me to list my top ten favorite perfumes to accompany the post.
I came up with ten, which then metastasized into twenty. That became fifty. And even at fifty I was deliberating, second guessing myself. If this was a desert island, and I only had these ten (or fifty), well...what kind of desert island exactly are we talking about? What's the weather like there? Pirates? Salt water? Windy, cold, hot and humid? I started to think there might be some truth in my friend's armchair diagnosis.
Every day I pack a bag of perfume for whatever the day might bring. But I know I'm going home at some point, or points unknown, so the pressure is minimal. Ten days in Denver is some version of a desert island, and I can't make up my mind. At some point I started to think that my friend might be right but, more than that, my love of perfume (something I only occasionally, and jokingly refer to as an addiction) is a clear manifestation of a disordered mind.