Away from the Nose, Away from the Heart
Words & Paul-André St-Georges
Images by Liam Moore
I rush home and open the mailbox: telephone bill, credit card statement, advertising, advertising, advertising. No, it’s still not there. Another day, I guess.
The next day, repeat, repeat.
And then, finally, I see that bright green envelope, delicate handwriting with my name and address carefully written. A British stamp, a pound symbol, the Queen, yes that’s really him! I rush into my house, jump on the couch and tear carefully, yet hastily, that letter, my heart beating fast.
I open the envelope and suddenly, he is magically in my arms right next to me…
For so many months we did what usually happens when two hearts are so far apart, with an ocean between us smoothing and soothing our two beats. We used all technology possible to communicate; Skype, text messaging, Facebook, Twitter, E-mail, telegrams, pigeons, you name it. A modern geeky love, 2.0—oh was it great!
For months we talked to each other constantly, as if in the same room. But after time, it felt so aseptic. Cold and precise, like a perfectly shaped surgical grade stainless steel table in an empty white room. It lacked warmth, touch and smell.
One day we decided to write each other letters, not e-mails. Letters, old-school, slow and almost medieval. We thoughtfully scented them, spraying them one by one with care. It felt like we were distant secret lovers of an epic romance by Hugo or Dumas. One after the other, we chose precisely the perfect smell to bring the other one to that special place, in that perfect moment.
I continue reading his letter; a tear of joy falls down my cheek, another tear, of sadness, knowing he is so far away, yet so close. I grab hard the letter between my hands, squeezing it and sniffing it again. Bam! Back there again, it is a complete euphoric experience. Another whiff, I close my eyes and I can really feel him right next to me, I can feel his warmth, his gentle caress, the musky sweet smell of his beard, I can hear his soft voice narrating his own letter. How can I resist not to smell it again, again and again?
This time, I am right back to that moment, after that first orgasm, lying naked in bed, sweaty, happy and exhausted, kissing and cuddling for hours, knowing something magical, electrical just happened between the two of us. Yes, I remember that moment, that smell: a smell of lust, manliness, of love. The connection that happened, that precise moment, that odour, imprinted on my mind. It is one of those moments impossible to forget, one of those moments that will be part of my little life-movie. The kind seen as the staring lead takes their last breath and their life plays out like a film.
The next letter I received is scented with the first perfume he wore for our first “non-virtual” meeting at the airport. I remember him, all smiling, standing there nervously, waiting for me. That first sweet and awkward cuddle, I will never forget that smell, THAT perfume. In fact, I should contact the perfumer. That perfume should be renamed, it should be called his name, the design should be him, the story should be about him, not about a tasteless uninspired marketing story. And hell, only he should be allowed to wear it, no one else. That is his signature, that is our story! You can’t steal it from him, from us. I am kidding… well kind of.
Sometimes, he tells me that my letters smell of my house, of wooden floors, woody candles, incense, home-cooked stews, snow and the cold wind of a rough Quebec winter. I do not know how. I have not magically learnt how to distil the perfume of my house, but apparently, magically, that smells ends up in my letters. I know it makes him truly happy, I know it makes me happy.
I remember reading in a newspaper some time after our first meeting about a dating trend where strangers bring a T-shirt they wore for a whole two nights in a plastic bag. And like speed-dating, attendees get a random sniff at each T-shirt, identifying which one seems attractive, and which one is repulsive—blindly led by their nose in other words. I laughed at the oddness, also repulsed at the thought of smelling the T-shirt of a complete stranger, but then maybe, we could…could we? We talked about it, laughing at the thought, wondering if it would gross the other. Well, I won’t invent a fake juicy story here, we never tried it. We moved quickly (luckily for us!) to the same country before having the chance to test it. But still, it makes me reflect on these days, why this can make sense, why smell is important for two people.
There is a French proverb which states, “Out of sight, away from the heart.” After all these months, living in that long-distance relationship, I believe this proverb is not entirely correct, it should be, “Away from the nose, away from the heart.”
I am often away from home these days, alone in business trips in empty, lonely, soulless hotel rooms, and the thought often comes back to me. I am sent back to that moment, when our hearts beat together. It is not as intense, of course, but still, I feel it. My nights are not the same, my mornings are not the same, my behaviour is slightly different. Maybe it is the lack of smell—my brain is addicted, needs it, reacts strongly to it. These nights, I cannot fall asleep without him in my arms, with my nose resting against the top of his back, between his shoulders, smelling his sweat, his skin, his sweet him.
Thinking about it, maybe I should bring a worn T-shirt in my suitcase…
Paul-André St-Georges is a number geek from Montreal currently living in London. He plays the piano, attempts the guitar and loves being behind a lens
This article appeared in ODOU issue 1
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