J is for Jasmine

Sometimes you just have to bang one out so you can keep going with a project.

When I walked into the tiny plant store, a rather bitchy woman greeted me with a curt “hello?”  Clearly, grungy 23-year-olds did not frequent her store.  But my apartment needed plants, or it would not be home.  I planned on buying a few succulents, and a few African violets.  Those were forgotten the minute I walked in.  The store smelled like heaven.

“What is that scent?” I asked.

“The gardenias?”  I shook my head.  The heady scent of the gardenias infringed on the initial perfume that welcomed me.  Gardenias, in their cotillion-like grandeur, give me headaches.

“The jasmine?”  She lead me to a medium-sized pot, overflowing with small, bright green leaves;  miniature trumpet-like flowers covered the bush–pure white, dotted with a quick stroke of yellow in the middle.  I leaned over to breathe it in.

“Yes.”  With that I carried the plant to the counter, and bought it with all of my tip money from the night before.  The jasmine was my favorite roommate from that moment, when I moved home, and when I moved into my next apartment.  It died about a year later, unable to survive the dry heat and cold draughts.

* * *

Entering the Bangkok airport, jet-lagged and wobbly, I took a deep breath.  Unlike the canned air of most airports, I smelled something familiar.  I smiled.  Everywhere we went in Thailand, jasmine was there.  Teas.  Gardens.  Garlands.  Soaps.  Body lotion.  Anything.  The products did not feature the cloying, floral scent posing as the flower found in U.S. products.  I might as well have had a bouquet of the flowers behind my ear at any moment.  It is delicate.  Perfect.  The only perfume I would ever need.

I search for jasmine wherever I go.

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