Two years ago, after a “tasting” of 25 unidentified fragrances at Perfumarie in New York City, I opted to take home a vial of what turned out to be Élisire Oderose. Unapologetically pink and seemingly everlasting, Oderose could not be contained, not least because the medicine dropper cap was not airtight and the perfume evaporated rather quickly. Having immortalized it in a poem, I became less concerned about it and eventually forgot it was there. The remaining level of liquid stayed constant at just below the tip of the dropper.
Yesterday I picked it up again and as it smelled barely a shadow of the fluorescent, rose-oxide powerhouse it once was, I poured the entire 1 mL or so of mellow pleasantness onto the top I was wearing. I didn’t want it directly on skin at such a potentially strong concentration. It was now a creamy, musky, rosy sandalwood underneath a very berry coating—for a while I couldn’t decide if it was strawberry or raspberry, but it became more tart with time and when I caved and looked up the notes, the answer was raspberry. And orange. Persistently fruity in a very pink way.
As the day went on, and Oderose warmed up on me, I noticed that it was smelling more and more corporeal, increasing in fullness and volume, as opposed to the pale ghost it was earlier. It was becoming like my memory of it—coming alive, as it were. By evening, even the metallic, rose oxide component had resurfaced slightly, although this is not listed—rather, it might be the cashmeran and oakmoss playing tricks. Anything could be happening under the thick blanket of sweet raspberry on steroids.
Nothing was lost. Oderose had been reconstituted by the wearing of it.
Just like us, perhaps, when we think we’ve forgotten how to do something basic and instinctual—like socializing, or working in a certain way (when under or over capacity, it is difficult to imagine being in the optimal state of eustress, where the challenge stretches you just enough to stimulate creativity without burning you out). When we are back in our element, we can thrive again.