As I wrote the other day, I tried, and then set aside, Amouage Lyric a little more than a year ago. After trying it again—with what I’d like to think is a marginally more sophisticated nose—I find that I love it. “In for a dime, in for a dollar,” the saying goes, so while I was at it, I decided to re-try Amouage Epic (Woman). I put it on before bed, and felt the same sense of “meh” that I felt for it the first time around. No hypnotic seduction took place under the sheets that night.
However, as I was gently wafted off to dream of a no-limit AMEX and a Denyse Beaulieu guided tour of Paris, I was struck with thoughts of my mother’s sister, my aunt Elaine. Memories of her formed a cloud around my groggy imagination, when suddenly, more alert, I asked myself, “Why am I thinking of her?” Then, just as suddenly, I realized that Epic Woman smells like her. It’s her smell. I don’t know how, or why, but it just is.
The first time I wore Epic, it felt a little too dense, and a little too dark, harboring a strangely discordant element. Aunt Elaine, in turn, has carried more than her share of darkness. After the early death of her mother, and caring for an alcoholic father who died of cirrhosis, she took care of my great-grandmother until her death, and she took care of my great-grandfather until his death (at home, at 100 years old). She’s bailed my mother out of her own dark days on more than one occasion, providing a home for us at least once during my toddler years.
During grade-school, when I lived with my mom, weekends and summer days, birthdays, and all the holidays existed under Elaine’s matriarchal eye. As someone with a bi-coastal childhood, and having experienced thirteen different schools before ninth grade, the concept of “home” has never been a place; it is this person. If my aunt were not present at a family event, it could be said that the event did not happen.
She still lives in the family house, on the family property in small-town rural Massachusetts, where she and my mother were born, and where her mother before her was born. The gardens and grounds, which were my great-grandfathers pride for more than half a century, are still maintained diligently by her, to his exacting standards. The place that has been home for generations of my family is, to me, embodied in her person, and in her smell.
Epic Woman still strikes me as somewhat dissonant— and somewhat odd. But it also smells like home, like family.
And yeah, I want a bottle.