“For many years, I would always wake up before my alarm.” Of course, at the tender age of twenty-two, it’s rather young to be writing one’s memoirs but, if I decide to take the plunge one day, that’s definitely how I’ll begin. Every morning, I always wake up half an hour before the alarm on my phone is due to ring. It doesn’t matter for when I set it – at six, seven, or eight o’clock in the morning – it’s always the same: I inevitably wake up half an hour before! Today was no exception to the 30-minute rule. As usual, I started the day by checking my Facebook account, turning on my morning playlist, the perfect way to start the day. My flatmate, Claire, had already posted up the photos of our last weekend in the Vendée. I gave her a like and shared the photo I’d taken on the beach just before returning to Paris. Then I took a quick look at my Twitter feed to catch up with the news.
The music stopped, and the early morning silence lay upon the flat like a soft blanket of invisible snow… slowly melting under the assault of sounds coming first from the street, and then from the kitchen: the crash of a cupboard door, the clink of cup on cup… Claire was already up and about. We’ve known each other for years, ever since that day in the first year of the lycée when she came up to me between lessons and asked if I was as bored as she was. That was pure Claire! Straight to the point, decisive, no mincing of words. And we’ve been inseparable ever since. Never would I have considered moving in with anybody else. We complement each other so well, with neither of us ever feeling cramped by the other.
I checked the time on my phone. Just a few more minutes… Even if I always wake up before the alarm, I inevitably end up running late. It’s almost become a ritual. If I don’t start the day in a rush, I find it hard to pace myself. This was a frequent cause for my father’s criticism! “You’re always in a rush, Eva. In life, it’s different; you have to know when to slow down if you want to progress, discover your own path. Everyone grows up, but the hardest thing is to stay true to yourself, to find another way to grow.” How many times did I hear him say that? For him, there was nothing more important. And he’d demonstrated the truth of it, more so than anyone else.
When he was just nineteen, he discovered the art of perfumery and proceeded to dedicate his entire life to the world of fragrances, with exacting standards and a single-minded passion: to become one of the perfume industry’s most celebrated “noses”… but in a class of his own, a little borderline as we tend to be in our family, always looking for that “little something extra”, that little detail to ensure success… or catastrophe… His last perfume should have been his masterpiece, but it never saw the light of day. It made my father suffer terribly. He became completely withdrawn into himself, brooding over his failure.
Last summer, I was invited to a wedding and the mother of the bride exclaimed: “I stopped wearing perfume when Yves Brunold stopped producing them. Everything else just seems so bland to me.” I felt an overwhelming sense of pride well up within me; a posthumous sense of pride, it’s true… but a very real one for all that. My father was one of those men you could never forget, just like his creations. What that woman said did him justice, and came as a crowning tribute to all the efforts he had made. It was as if those terribly sad last years of his life had never existed, as if the name “Yves Brunold” still conjured up only happy memories, and not that vacant expression, that stubborn bitterness clinging to him at the end of his career and in the twilight of his life.
With tears in my eyes, and without really thinking, I leant forward and kissed the mother of the bride on the cheek. A little surprised, she whispered in my ear to console me: “Don’t be sad! You’ll be getting married one day, too.” My father would have adored this kind of misunderstanding. Two years after his death, I think about him increasingly often. I miss him. Why do we never say, and never do, things until it’s too late?
Illustrations: Karolis Strautniekas/Agent 002; Yann Le Bec/Illustrissimo
Photos: Musée du Quai Branly-Jacques Chirac ©Luc Boegly, Yvan Zedda/BPCE, Banque Populaire, Stéphane de Bourgies, CASDEN Banque Populaire, Caisse d’Epargne, Julien Crosnier/KMSP/DPPI, BPCE, DPPI/BPCE, Le Pot Commun, Neustockimages, Fidor Bank.
Getty Images: Btrenkel, picturegarden, Inimma-IS, Koraysa, Moodboard, Rachel Dewis, Peter Carlsson, Clu, Twohumans, Donal Husni-EyeEm, Nikada, egafoldo, Oscar Wong, Alija Izetbegovic, Uschools, Westend61, Bloom, milazvereva.
Shutterstock: Jacob Lund, EQRoy, Prostock, Diego Cervo, GaudiLab, Monkey Business Images, Travel Stock, Zhu Difeng.
Design and production: Havas Paris
Groupe BPCE, Corporate Communications Department.
Author of the short story: Jean-Pierre Montal.
Editorial consultants and drafting of the “Clues” pages: Information & Conseil.