I kiss Miriam goodnight and am overwhelmed by scent: Midnight Pomegranate hand lotion, mint foot cream, tea tree shampoo. The fragrance is fruity and woodsy, surface and substance, the tangle of possibility and promise embodied by a 12 year-old girl.

I breathe deeply and remember my own afternoons at the mall, unscrewing bottle after bottle, spreading a little of this on my forearm, a little of that on the back of my hand. These days, I go for the lightly fragranced, the simple and direct.

My daughter, on the other hand, is consumed by scent. A trip to Bath and Body Works becomes an hour-long excursion, a descent into sensory overload. Josh quickly chooses a lip balm and a hand sanitizer; we’re ready to go home. Miriam could stay all afternoon.

This evening Sammy came to dinner smelling like roses and strawberries. His sister’s bath gel is in the shower, and he wanted some too. It smells good, he says, unaware that one day he will consider this a “girl thing,” not worthy of his skin.

They are growing up, not quite here, not quite there. A curtain opens for a moment and I catch a glimpse of the teenagers they might become. Then it closes, and I am back at the dinner table, filling water glasses, passing the bowl of peas, Moonlight Woods body wash hanging in the air like a question.


2 thoughts on “Fragrance

  1. I’ve especially struck this trip with a sense of how they are all really, really growing. Holding Joshy’s little hand to cross the parking lot reminded me that Sammy’s hand is bigger and no longer proffered for protection crossing the lot. And Miriam, she’s always had insights, creativity, and compassion beyond her years, but she has developed with self-confidence, conscience, and wit. She’s connecting the dots. I love them so.


  2. Susan! One good read deserves another. So glad to know about your blog.
    Emma, too, spent flagons of time at Bed Bath and Beyond. I use sparingly a left-behind tube of White Ginger hand cream. Smoothes out my hands and returns to me memories of Emma in search of self through the scents and essences of BB&B!. Thanks for a wonderful essay. If you want a great book to read check out Emperor of Scent.


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