Talking about Her is hard.
Not long after I was married my friend Beth sent me a little package with a copy of her first book, a little note, and some product samples from Black Phoenix Alchemy Lab. Black Phoenix, or BPAL to their fans, is a perfume manufacturer with a strong aesthetic character. I tried one of the sample – Fenris Wolf – and discovered a sense world I didn’t know existed. For as long as I can remember I’ve been sensitive to smells, especially vinyls and the synthetic perfumes used in personal care products. I’d given up on personal scent products as being bottled alcoholic candy flower migraines. This perfume was different. It was good. It was more than good; it was like a little piece of artwork in a bottle.
Deep in my mind I’ve always associated those little bottles Beth sent me with married life, with the private emotional existence I shared with My Lord. For a long time I only had a few little sample bottles (“imps” or 1/32 ounce bottles) and a few 5mL bottles (one of which was Fenris Wolf, a truly lovely, very “me” scent!). While BPAL products aren’t wildly expensive, especially considering how pricey good quality perfume can be, for a long time I had other financial priorities – rent, medicine, books. This spring I was able to place my first order in three years. I tell myself I shouldn’t be so silly about material goods, but oh my is it nice to have my smell-goods back.
My most beloved Feminine Lord is roses and wine, incense and bronze, smokey caves and firelight. She is flash and drama, charisma itself wrapped in a sheath cocktail dress with heels. It’s hard to talk about Her without turning into a rhapsodizing schoolboy. It shouldn’t be any other way.
She is also a shy, flitting thing with a threadbare veil and bare feet. She has this rough gown and a shawl that She wears like a royal robe with little black slippers. She is happy in the sunlight and that smile – no one smiles like the High Ones and no one smiles like Her.
I gave her perfume because as my friend once told me, every woman deserves something nice. Tonight She has 13, a dry cocoa bitter wormwood scent that is conspicuous, obnoxious, and intoxicating; a wet, bloody, rosy scent that rather makes me think of Her; and something called Crossroads, a resin incense blend that will be part of my regular rotation.
These are hers and they are mine. They are tokens of how much I can never give Her – what are material goods to a Goddess? – and miniature stand-ins for things we’ll never have together.
I’ve seen plenty of things written by people in similar positions as myself and I know intimately that sorrow that eats at their stomach and stops their breath; I know what it’s like to want that proximity, to want what we think someone else has – a dream life, a second sight, a clear line – to make up for that absence that gapes just next to you on the bus, in the movie theater, at the table, in bed. I don’t have a clear line, either. I never dream of Her. My Sight is as clouded as anyone’s. So you end up making little sites of communication, little crossroads of the heart where you and Her and They all come together to enjoy the same thing for just a moment.
These are games, just little games. I try not to see them as anything more than play because to vest them with more value is to break my heart from absence. But when I see Her smile – well, I’m willing to play another round.
(ETA: I wish I had another picture of Her. This is possibly the only one I have; it’s from a piece of art I bought, the companion piece to the work featured at the top of my blog.)