Revelations is a series that explores what is revealed between our senses and our emotions. Each month we ask an interesting person to take inspiration from a Libertine scent and share a personal story that illuminates the connections between scent and feeling.
Our first Revelations submission is from LC James of @nearlynoseblind on Tik Tok & Instagram:
Perfume content creator, photographer, writer, Star Wars fan.
LC is a rare human in the online world; funny, smart & most rare online, incredibly genuine. LC helped a great deal with our rebrand, writing a number of the perfume descriptions, including for Fin de Siecle. It is only fitting that scent be the inspiration for our first in the Revelations series. The words and photos below are hers.
"I have a locket with a coin inside, and I wear it often.
It’s Greek. I’m not sure how old it is. The metal is coated in a blue-green patina - it looks almost like moss. The tail is stamped with an ox. The head has an image of Persephone, in profile.
She’s not just the queen of the dead. She’s the queen of everything under the earth, and how those things grow.)
For a long time; really, for the many years I was in a relationship that was insidious in its abuse, I was fascinated with Persephone and her relationship with Hades.
I think it was a way of romanticizing my own situation. I thought if I was as dark as my surroundings, I could not be harmed, so I made her part of my own personal, quiet devotions. (There’s a lighter from Vietnam. A GI carved into it “yea though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death I shall fear no evil for I am the evilest motherfucker in the valley.)
I got the coin when I was a law clerk. That feels like five lifetimes ago. Upon receipt, I was infuriated, because the gift meant that someone saw me. I didn’t want to be seen. I railed at them on a beautiful autumn, and three middle school groups were shoving their way into the Capitol Visitor Center. I was loud enough for some of them to look.
(I’m in a relationship this is so goddamn expensive who are you to give me a gift like this this is so inappropriate– thank you.)
I was the one who agreed to meet them.
It was given to me by someone who saw who I was, the frankly dire situation I was in, and who I could be. They’d go on to ask me, over the two years it took to extricate myself from someone I just call That Bastard now, if I loved Persephone because I thought of death as a refuge. For two years, they kept their hand out, waiting to help me - not because I wasn’t capable, but because I couldn’t see a way out from underground. And then, one day in the middle of November, I stepped out into springtime, and they were still there, waiting for me.
Persephone always comes back to the light, where she belongs.
I am not Persephone. I am a jumbled-up twenty-something who is only just now learning that thing that you should learn as a small child: you should be loved gently. You should be brought roses. You should not have to prick yourself on the brambles to be beautiful, or worthy of love. There is no need to kiss the knife. There is no need to be cut at all.
There is a cliff edge all girls of a certain age stand on and peer over. At the bottom is a man who is leather and belt buckles and cigarettes that smell like your grandfather, all wrapped in January. He will take everything from you except a shiver and a sigh, and you will still have to clock in for work when the sun comes up and he will not be there.
(You will feel as if you want him. You will feel as if this man can match the fury that built up inside you as a teenager - that builds every second you must exist as a woman. He cannot. He will leave your body like a winter afternoon. You do not want him. Run home. The sunlight will not always find you. I got lucky)
Now, I stand in the sun. I am loved - fiercely, but gently. I laugh - I laugh so much, and all the time, and I sleep with my leg thrown over someone else’s in an impossible tangle - it is born of a familiarity that makes me believe in reincarnation. It stuns me that I am not sunburnt, the way I am loved is so radiant.
They are older. Much older. I have no shame about this. Only perhaps an anticipation of grief, that for a time they will be somewhere I cannot go. I can see myself losing my atheism when I lose them. I’ll start looking for signs, and I’ll forget what the words “confirmation bias” mean - because being loved like this makes you believe in the benevolent arc of the universe. I have them, and I have letters, and I have a locket with this coin inside.
I will take it off when I stand on the banks of a river and I have a ferryman to pay. I will hand it off, smile, and skim my hands over the glass-water of the river as he sails. I will trip on the far shore, pressing mud and gravel into whatever beautiful thing I was buried in, and the first hands that pick me up and smile at me will be the hands who placed that coin around my neck all those decades ago. We will look at each other and laugh, and they will take my hand.
Then we will melt. Become mist. We will dance in between the atoms of each other.Forever.