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Smell Like a Woman

A certain gentleman in my circle gave me Chanel No. 5 for my birthday a few months ago. For the record, I had never before owned Chanel No. 5. I had never before even smelled Chanel No. 5. It’s just out of my league; one of those perfumes I always figured I had no business wearing.

Anyway, it’s not about the perfume. That’s not what I’m stuck on. Rather the note this gentleman had written on the accompanying card. “Time to smell like a woman,” it said.

Time to smell like a woman.

It’s an age I’m not crazy about, so maybe you can read in these words a sweet and comforting message of encouragement about embracing my status as mature woman. But that’s not how I read it at the time. I, in fact, became rather internally panicked about what, exactly, I’d been smelling like up to that point. An adolescent? And what does that even smell like? Exclamation? Sunflower? The vanilla fragrance from Anthropologie I’ve been wearing for years?

The gift made me wax pensive over maturity, and over what life looks like before and after that point. This particular gentleman is the epitome of mature, in that he’s older, owns a sizable and expertly-furnished home, and fills it with art and sculptures and pictures from his world travels. Whereas the last time we were at my house (a small one-bedroom beach cottage with furnishings from IKEA), I had to scrounge through cupboards just to find a glass out of which to offer him a beverage. Do you see the difference? Do you see why his gift made me panic? Because now I’m convinced my whole life wreaks to him of adolescence. Except, isn’t this more minimalist-style life I live equally valid? Aren’t I still a legit adult woman even without the Chanel?

When I moved to Manhattan a few years ago, I downsized to probably only 10% of what I owned. I did this because I had to fit my large Midwestern home’s worth of goods into a 350 square foot studio apartment. And I’m not saying it wasn’t hard—seeing your costly possessions strewn about your yard and driveway being purchased for pennies can be depressing, as can realizing that you no longer really “own” anything even as a mature adult woman—but what I am saying is that I liked being so minimal. I liked only having what I needed. I liked the ease with which I could clean and pack. I liked knowing if I needed or wanted to up and move again, which, incidentally, I did a short time later, it would be a cinch. I liked being so transportable. I liked defying the Laws of Suburbia which state that possessions are what make us happy and determine our level of success.

Now that I’m in a (slightly) bigger home—one that actually has a bedroom—I’ve re-acquired some things, but for the most part I’m still pretty minimal. And it works for me. Now, would I be more attractive to this gentleman if I had stemware, artwork, and a bed and dresser I hadn’t assembled myself? I guarantee it. But if I’ve learned anything from his gift, it’s that being a woman doesn’t have to look—or smell—a certain way. Of course, I’ve also learned that Chanel No. 5 is divine, so let’s just call that a bonus.

APR
04

Home Decor

I've been eyeing this project for some time, although I must give credit to my sister, as she's the one who pointed these watercolors out to me in the first place. At first it was suggested that maybe I could attempt them myself, though I doubt this option would have produced something that made sense being displayed on my living room wall. Maybe more like my fridge...if I had a young child to whom I could attribute their creation.

It took several stops to find somewhere with frames both as colorful and cheap as I was after (I was buying twelve of them, yo), and don't even get me started on the hours-long ordeal of trying to line them up straight and with equal spacing. My brother had cautioned I should not attempt it without measuring tape, a level, and a second person to help me, but I have none of those things. So I went for the always solid Trial and Error approach, and the project is now done. There are also about a billion tiny nail holes in my living room wall.

I realize that decorating your walls with gemstones is not normal. But I'm really not a normal girl. My affection for all things gem is the epitome of abnormal. But surely you know that by now. I freaking wrote a book about it. And quit my job to study it. And moved across the country to work in it. And now, thanks to this weekend's project, every night I will come home to it. Besides, what's so great about being normal, anyway? It sounds much less sparkly.

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