The first perfume has no bottle, no receipt or shopping basket. The very first perfume is made from crushed Lavender leaves, pulled from a neighbour’s front garden on a Saturday morning before the word ‘Lavender’ has even entered our vocabulary. We pull the leaves and the tiny, dusky-purple buds and hold them both in our tiny, dusky-pink hands until they are warm. A grip so tight yet gentle, holding on until we reach home is what gives birth to the perfume.
‘Rub it against your wrists’ my mother told me. And so, I pressed a piece of nature against one of my heartbeat homes – perfume was created, and I had never felt so sophisticated.
Yesterday, I walked past a lavender bush belonging to a stranger. I instinctively pulled at a leaf or two and all my senses aligned at once: I heard your voice; I smelt the perfume; I tasted a memory; I saw all time melt away and felt the leaves touch my wrist, just as I had done all those years before.
I continued to stroll past thousands of leaves and hundreds of flowers. It was April and springtime had never looked better – it was quite frankly showing off, like a Holland Park peacock in pursuit of love. I was both consciously and subconsciously in a similar pursuit that Spring. The lavender was one of the many seasonal joys that filled my heart and I was reminded that a heart that is full is precious.
I followed a sunlit, cobblestone path and upon reaching the lake, the world was suddenly blue: happily blue, peacefully blue. The ripples of the water were blinding yet I could not remove my gaze – I wanted to escape for an evening and losing myself in the ripples felt like holding my own hand. It felt like holding a hand that had lavender in its veins, the evergreen perfume flooding into fingertips and with it bringing sanctuary.
I stayed by the water until my heart felt like new and the sun hid shyly behind lilac clouds – two simultaneous events, as if the sky and I were connected on an invisible scale: a tiny, lavender-bud sized scale.
My hair took flight in the breeze as I left the lake and although I had walked past this body of water so many times over two decades, it was the first time I noticed that just by the water side, hidden by reeds and as tall as a child’s eye-gaze grew a lavender bush. The water rippled and the air smelt sweet as new purple buds waltzed in the evening air, waiting for a new hand to hold.