I have never been a woman to apply fidelity to any one fragrance throughout my life. The result is that memories of different times in my life are beautifully curated by scent.

One thing that I have always been is a floral girl, and I began with tiny vials of essential oils, which recall to me firstly the earliest days of such young love with N-, though it is rose oil in particular that takes me on a heady journey to a cavernous room on a floor between what is now Revolver Upstairs and what was then a music shop called Revolver (downstairs), in Chapel St, Prahran. It was there, as a twenty year old that I fell into a kind of love with a guitar player. I see myself, waif thin, with a long bob and red matte Poppy lipstick, black baby doll mini, blue chenille jacket and Doc Marten 8 ups laced with brown ribbons, buying monochrome postcards of Man Ray photographs, on the way to that shabby stairway, hopelessly enamored with the romance of Johnny and his silver guitar.

I graduated to my first grown up perfume in my early twenties, when I requested Chanel No. 5 as a Christmas gift from my mother. I still have that refillable atomiser, and when I sprayed it this morning, expecting a sour vinegar smell, I was surprised to still detect the soft, powdery essence there, so reminiscent of those years on top of the hill in Ballina, university at Lismore, navy blue velvet trousers, paper making, Summers in Melbourne, thousands of tiny, handwritten words in a soft silvery mauve covered journal; cruising from Fairfield to Elwood with N-in his blue kombi, and even that brief trip to London and Ireland, so interwoven with trepidation and timid wonder. From there I built on my collection with the ubiquitous Issey Miyake scent L’eau D’Issey, and the memories overlap, like the different shades of red that I dyed my hair.

When N- and I parted ways after seven years together in my mid twenties, I began the process of finding out who I was without him. For the new millennium there was a break up fragrance, Calvin Klein’s Contradiction, full of woody white florals and recalling the skimpiest of sheer Calvin Klein lingerie (along with the memory of breasts that were a B cup instead of ~ahem~ the size that they are now), Bloody Mary’s at Kelvin in Northcote, becoming the thinnest that I have ever been, hair short and peroxide white, and then later blue. There were pages upon pages of black handwriting in spiral bound notebooks, my intimate dialogue with myself; the full gorgeousness of being introduced to (and diving deeply into) the words of Pablo Neruda and Michael Ondaatje (‘like diving a hundred times from a moving train into the harbour’) and the music of Nina Simone, along with fizzy red wine, Portishead and Lamb.

My next scent, Maria, was part of a layering range from Shu Uemura, pillowed between essential oils of jasmine and ylang ylang, and from there I (kind of) remember a blur of nights at Pause in Balaclava, flirting with the dashing -married-moustachioed barman owner; drinking an endless round of Cosmolitans, dressed in gauzy Alannah Hill, golden crocheted Kinki Gerlinki and high heeled Italian ankle boots, those years of living on cups of tea and cigarettes. I almost fell in love with three men over those five years, and a few men almost fell in love with me but, slippery as fishes, we all evaded each other, and lucky, because (‘I am one who fasts until I see what I want’), I was waiting for my husband, who unbeknownst to either of us, was waiting in the wings for me.

The sweet scent of Anna Sui Love took me from those last days of being single before Al and I got together. Late Friday nights at The Windsor Castle Hotel, blurry Doulton Bar shenanigans, pints of Becks, hung over Mexican breakfasts at Blue Corn, the thrill of anticipation as I boarded a plane to Sydney for one stunning weekend with Al in Darlinghurst that made me swoon with love for him from the outset. A waft of that perfume and I am again dancing in the rain at Watsons Bay Hotel, or jumping, drenched and laughing, into a strawberry scented cab at Circular Quay.

I moved to Sydney three crazy, beautiful months later. Lovely by Sarah Jessica Parker was the fragrance that I wore during those days of exploring my new city. I still wear it now, and it was the perfume that I chose to wear on my wedding day. Coco by Chanel recalls Bondi to me in an instant, Dizzy Limit gigs, King St in Newtown, Gertrude and Alice bookshop, Curlewis St and Team Event, the events Management crew that I worked with on Old South Head Rd and Alexandria, and of course, Al’s proposal to me at Watson’s Bay.

When we moved to Elwood at the end of 2008, I began wearing Burberry’s The Beat, and wearing it still encapsulates a rather long moment at The King of Tonga bar in Tennyson St, and the dozens of truly wonderful friends that we made there. Kenzo L’Eau par tells the same story, along with Clinique’s Happy Heart, which I am wearing today, and which reflects very aptly exactly this moment in time.

{Quotes are both from Michael Ondaatje, from Handwriting and The English Patient}