perfume and puppy love: my journey to find a signature scent

A specific scent can take you back to a frozen moment in time. My mom's perfume instantly takes me to my childhood bedroom late at night. I remember her coming to tuck me in after she paid the babysitter after a night out with my dad. I'd be too sleepy to respond to her "I love you. Sleep tights," but was comforted by the scent of lingering perfume, lipstick and light beer still stuck to the corner of her lips. It was the smell of a grown up, the smell of places I wasn't allowed into, but it was the smell of warmth and sleep.

The first perfume I ever wore was a sample of Clinique's Happy stolen from my mom's makeup bag. I was in the library in the 7th grade when I discovered the power a scent held. After a lesson on the Dewey Decimal system, the librarian had the class lined up to leave. The cutest, most popular 7th grade boy was standing behind me joking with his equally as intimidating friends. I was minding my own business, probably re-buckling my twisted overall straps, when he told me he liked the way I smelled.

My stomach dropped to my knees, and my face felt like it was on fire. I sputtered a quick "thanks," and spun back around. I buried my face behind my trapper keeper, hiding an embarrassingly huge smile. In that moment I discovered the feeling a compliment from the opposite sex could muster from my previously unassuming heart; and unfortunately have been chasing it ever since. Damn you Blake Stephenson.

The first perfume I bought was a bottle of Ralph Lauren Hot in the 8th grade. My best friends and I all had a bottle. We would take turns dousing each other in the potent boy-luring liquid before dances and games of truth or dare disguised as friendly neighborhood capture the flag. The man-bait hooked a first kiss for each of my companions, but left me stinking with rabid sexual frustration.

In the 10th grade I asked for a bottle of Calvin Klein Euphoria for Christmas, inspired by Natalia Vodianova writhing between purple chiffon curtains in the TV commercial. I was sure I needed a signature scent to identify myself at my new high school as the edgy public school dropout. I attribute this scent to the wrangling of my first boyfriend. That and the extra hem my mom put in my skirt after I pitched a fit over the shapeless uniforms I'd be forced to wear. We made it a couple of years before coming to the conclusion that perfume and sweaty high school love could not carry a high school relationship into college. He texted me long after the dust had settled to tell me he thinks of me whenever a girl wearing the perfume breezes past. Success.

I wore Euphoria until the bitter end of my first college relationship Freshman year. I pretty much destroyed everything that either reminded me of him or he liked about me... including my long hair. I made a hard switch from preppy boys of old, to insightful introverts (one of whom I'm marrying next month.) In my search for the perfect edgy artist man, I bought a bottle of Yves Saint Laurent "Opium." I wanted to give off a completely different vibe, one that exuded maturity, mystery and apparently the '80s as I'm sure no one has worn that seriously since then.

Opium carried me through a few relationships and flings, but did not garner the attention I was hoping for. My senior year my mom bought me her signature scent of more than a decade, Angel, by Thierry Mugler. It smelled like my mom, but it also smelled like confidence and blended well with my skin. I don't think I owe Angel credit for the current man I managed to scoop up, but I did wear it on our first date.

The last bottle of perfume I've bought was Derek Crosby's Blackout. It smells like spices and chai tea and reminds me of the perfectly curated home store boutiques in my neighborhood. I bought it before my trip to France because I wanted to have a scent associated with my first big trip out of the country. I'm glad I did, because it will now always remind me of my perfect engagement and stumbling down Paris streets drunk on Rose and puppy love.

Today I keep a bottle of Euphoria for nostalgic purposes, but it doesn't smell the same on my skin anymore. I'm pretty sure it created a literal love potion in combination with my teen hormones and it won't ever smell the same. I also keep the bottle of Opium for the winter months, as the spicy musk warms up even the most bitter snowy days. I keep a couple of roller-balls I've tried when I want to switch things up, but I usually rotate between Blackout and Angel. 

I hope none of my exes read my blog, but if they do I apologize for the subtle shoutout and I selfishly hope my signature scents still make you double take.