Thursday, October 18, 2012

Take me to the river. Drop me in the water.

Lylli Bleu EdP from Justine Crane of The Scented Djinn

Here is another water story for you, dear reader.  When I was young, I had two grandparents I worshiped  FN1.  They had a beach house out on the Gulf. It was out on Bolivar peninsula, a ferry ride past Galveston.  When I think of my childhood, that house is probably the one place I remember being consistently and uniformly happy.

My grandfather, my Papa, he had a massive stroke when I was only five.  Still, I have a handful of memories of him before it happened.  I remember him mowing the front lawn while I saw on the stoop with something sticky on my hands.  I can remember him driving me to the beach in an old blue station wagon.  I know he's driving because I can see the back of his head and his shoulder, clad in this hideous polyester white and dark blue paisley shirt, above the edge of the seat. FN2. And I remember, very clearly, that he used to take me out, way out into the water, all the way to the second sandbar, in an old inner tube that smelled strongly of rubber.

In the clearest of these inner tube memories, I am screaming, caterwauling, because he is dragging me out and, for some reason, I want to go in.  Strong-willed even at age three, I am yelling, "Let me go! Let me go!" I can hear him say, "Okay," with a heavy sigh, and he let's the tube go.  I float with the flow of water away from him slightly as the tide gathers itself a little.

Then the wave comes.

Over I go, flung out of the inner tube and down into the water.  My eyes are open because I don't have the sense to close them. The water is a brownish grey from the heavy silt in the area and murky, clouding my vision. I see seaweed churning in the wave's wake.  I'm flailing, but the water is stronger than my uncoordinated limbs, and I twist and thrash. I think, though I don't know if this is then or now in retrospect, that I am drowning, and it scares me.

Then hands find me and pull me out.  My eyes sting.  I cough and choke as the salty, bitter water clears my lungs.  He's carrying me back to shore now, holding me to his warm skin easily with one arm while he drags the inner tube behind us with the other hand.

"You let me go.  You promised you wouldn't let me go." I scream, crying. "Why did you let me go?"

Laughing, he says, "Because you asked me to."

I think of this memory at least one hundred times every year.

"Why did you let me go?"

"Because you asked me to."

He would have given me anything, I think.  Even if he knew it wasn't a good idea, he'd have given it to me because I asked for it.

I don't know what to do with that kind of love, even as a hazy memory.

When I think of those times, I smell salt and silt and rubber, hot sand and seaweed and jellyfish and picked over corpses of sea creatures rotting in the hot sun. Does that sound disgusting?  It isn't. It's a visercal kind of beautiful. There's a lot of life and death and life again in those warm waters.  The smell of it still haunts my dreams.

Which brings us to Day Three! We have reached day three of the Primordial Scent Project: Water. Okay, who knew it was possible to do so many different realistic well-done aspects of water? Not me, trust me. I've been disappointed by enough 'water' scents to have been a littler nervous when I agreed to review the water-centered scents.

Lylli Bleu EdP's notes include "blue lotus, mitti, sandalwood, and neroli," and it is a sweet, dirty, wet scent that reminds me of the smell of water my backyard for the first time a few weeks ago. I have fruit trees, you see, and when I watered, the smell of tart apples, over ripe pears, and rotting plums all rose up from the grass along with the smell of wet dirt and grass and moss. This is similar in spirit, thought not as sweet or hot as the immediate scent of the rotting fruit flesh under the hot summer sun.

It is stunning, how water can revive scents, bring them out in things that seem spent, or wasted, or dead. When we search the universe for signs of life, we always search for water. When I have moments like this, I understand why. There is something, well, primordial about the scent of water, and for day three in a row, here is another scent that demonstrates that smells is beautiful and wearable. Moderate to low sillage, lasting between six and eight hours on me.

If you'd like to try the entire Primordial Scent Project: Water set, it's available here for $25.00.

For more reviews of the primordial water scents, try: EauMG; The Perfume Critic; Fragrantica.

Hold me; squeeze me.
Love me; tease me
'til I can,'til I can't,
'til I can't tell....

~ "Take Me to the River," Talking Heads


FN1. I still worship them. They're just not here anymore. But I still miss them and think of them every day.

FN2. This must have been 1981 or 1982, so back off the bad fashion, haters. In my mind's eye it is what we historian's call "period appropriate."


Anonymous said...

I'm pleased to see Justine Crane getting well-deserved attention for her scent here: I enjoy her candid blog very much too.

Your water story memory was very touching and left me with a bit of a lump in my throat and a bit of water in my eyes.

cheerio, with snuffles, from Anna in Edinburgh

Diana said...


I love Justine's perfumery and her blog. This whole project has been an amazing gift, and I feel really lucky to have been included.

As for the story, I suppose waterworks are thematically appropriate. ;) Thanks, as always, for reading.