Winners of the "Teatro Alla Scala" drawing, chosen using random.org, are: Chayaruchama and Weegee! Please get in touch with me at Olfactarama at ATT dot net with your postal information and I’ll get the samples out to you posthaste. Congratulations!
Do you ever wonder about trivial, random things and how they might have shaped your life?
When I was eight, I lived with my family in Japan. We lived near a huge U.S. Air Force base, Tachikawa, about forty miles from Tokyo. On a clear day, as I rode my bicycle to school, I could see a postcard-perfect view of Mt. Fujiyama, so beautifully blue, crowned with white in winter. One day I got off the bike and simply stood and stared at it, transfixed. I understood, in that way that children do, that there was something sacred about it.
Although my father was not actually in the military, we had some military privileges, including the schools, the BX and the Officers’ Club. Our house was just off base, in a little compound of stucco cottages called American Village. (The base is now a park, but the compound is still there. I looked it up on Google Earth. A Japanese student I met at a party years ago told me that it had been maintained as a sort of artists’ colony. I hope it still is.)
In the way of the military, family members were given opportunities to participate in the local culture. We toured silk factories filled with white caterpillars. We learned flower arranging, which I still remember how to do. Making origami cranes, painting with brushes and cakes of ink, how to properly wear a kimono. My mother belonged to the Officers Wives Bowling League, and every year, they had a mother-daughter luncheon. It wasn’t my favorite thing -- I was a rangy kid who loved to roam and disliked dresses -- but I went, all dressed up, wearing patent-leather shoes. They always had a door prize. One year I won. I still remember the thrill of hearing my name called, my mother’s delight, going shyly up to the front to pick up my prize.
It was a perfume bottle. It’s pictured to the left.
Since then, I’ve moved many times, and sometimes it seems as though I’ve had many lives, but I still have the perfume bottle. It’s the oldest object from my own life that I possess. Sometimes it’s been filled with perfume, sometimes not. I tend to break things, but somehow this bottle has remained intact.
My mother is gone now, Tachikawa Air Force Base is gone, and even its site has been swallowed by Tokyo. (I find it fitting that the former headquarters of the big bad US military, occupying a country we’d defeated, is now reserved for Japanese urban dwellers’ relaxation.) But, as in anyone’s life, so much is gone. The bottle, though, is still here.
I’m wondering now if needing perfume to fill it is was part of the reason why I became a perfume fan. That was why when, one day, I heard about buying fragrance online, I googled my favorite one, found the perfume blogs, became fascinated with them and, ultimately, started one of my own, which you are reading.
I know now that it’s better to keep perfume in the dark, but I didn’t want to hide this bottle away, so I emptied it. It now sits in the place of honor atop my perfume cabinet. Every time I look at it, which is often, I remember how, and where, I got it.
“Door prize,” I think, is a good description. For me, this perfume bottle, now a door to the past, was a secret glimpse into the future.
Photo by Olfactarama, all rights reserved.