” Experiential Travel. This could be defined as the act of heading off beyond the beaten tourist path and becoming immersed in authentic local culture or environment. It is a journey away from home, involving a truly memorable and powerful experience (active, cultural, natural, social, or spiritual) that will enrich a person’s life and improve the way that they connect with both loved ones and with the world.” Glamping.com
One of the things that I love the most about writing about fine fragrance is that every now and then my entire life collides with a beautiful new perfume. Pretty soon you’ll meet the remarkable new fragrance by Laurie Stern called “Highway”, but first, a bedtime story. If you know me, then you know that I was blessed at birth with a healthy dose of wanderlust and a heart full of hedonism. There’s nothing I love more than to travel the open road with my husband and discover places, scents and people that I’ve never experienced before. I’m a perfume addict and a sensory junkie. If it smells, feels, sounds, looks or tastes good, chances are that I’ve tried it at least once.
I’m also a completely nostalgic, impractical romantic and unashamed bohemian. If I could have my own gypsy wagon filled to the brim with velvet, stained glass, candle lanterns and a team of beautiful horses to pull it, I think that I could easily live that way forever, provided of course that my husband was alongside with his guitars and his gorgeous blue eyes to help me find my way through the long dark night.
He’s been my muse from the moment I met him, pulling me into a journey of sometimes reluctant and relentless spiritual self discovery. (Remember, I’m the earth mother..who has time for spirit when there’s single malt to be drunk,chocolate to eat and love to be made!)
Jim has a joy about him that everyone can feel, laughter that warms you from the inside out and a significant bonus is that because he grew up a farm boy, he’s forever infused with the sweet smell of soft sun warmed hay.
We’ve done so much together..birthing businesses , books and a beautiful child. We’ve received Darshan from Holy Masters, taken apart sand mandalas with Tibetan monks and danced with shamans. We became Reiki Masters and facilitators of Past Life Regression. Life with him has never been dull but for a short while it started to resemble something I’d almost call normal. I began to feel a couple of years ago that perhaps we were headed for that quiet mature spot in our relationship where we just grew old, gray and wise together…settling down with a couple of dogs , some cats and a few tomato plants while we were patiently awaiting our grandchildren. Frankly, I thought that maybe after a lifetime of constant spiritual and sensual adventure that it would suit me just fine.
Then he had the audacity to go and fall off of Camelback Mountain in Scottsdale Arizona. I found him badly bloodied and in shock. He’d hit his head badly, but had somehow come down the mountain under his own steam. I dragged him to the emergency room and only after about a week was I fairly sure that he was going to be just fine. He still doesn’t remember calling me or much of anything about the fall. What he does remember is that my parents who are both deceased helped him down from the mountain. He remembers the sweet fragrance of angels. He remembers coming to with the knowledge that his purpose in life had just gotten even bigger. I knew that at that point it was time to buckle up and hold on tight because the highway was going to quickly get very fast and curvy. I did what I’ve always done…taken a big deep breath and remembered that the universe is a vaster place than we could ever understand. I breathed in gratitude and breathed out fear. Then I jumped alongside him.
To quote Lord John Gray from the Outlander Series….”What news from the underworld Persephone?
There’s something about the freedom that comes when you just take a deep breath and dive headfirst into your life and that’s what we did. So often we plan and save for an far off future, only to find that the sweetest, juiciest, liveliest adventures happen when we’ve planned the least. It’s a learned skill really, to choose the road less traveled. To choose happiness instead of drudgery. To live life as the essence of these words by Jack Kerouac…“Live, travel, adventure, bless, and don’t be sorry.”
After all..you’ve always got plenty of time to have an ordinary life.
So what happens when you decide that you are going to finally have the life you’ve always been dreaming of? Maybe your kids have left the nest and you’re wondering who your spouse is, because it’s been so long since you’ve been anything but parents together. Perhaps over the years you’ve simply lost your inspiration, drive & purpose and you’re just wondering what’s next? Maybe you’re longing to feel in love again but don’t know where to look for that spark anymore? Or just maybe you know that you’re destined to do something romantic, huge and wonderful, something that you dreamt of decades ago and put aside when you decided to grow up and become “responsible”.
After Jim’s fall off the mountain the world opened up quite a bit. Different possibilities were everywhere. There was no time to lose because after almost losing each other we felt that it was time to begin to explore all of those what-ifs. We began to travel more and worry less. We arranged our lives so that we could work from anywhere.
Life has become so very lovely. The universe expands in amazing, terrifying and surprising ways to allow your dreams to unfold and then it’s up to you to decide what you’re going to do with them. It’s a rebirth and it always comes about after the death of the stubborn , terrified part of your soul that always wants everything to stay the same.
It’s a heady sensation, freedom is….Coming out of the closet as yourself, admitting to your self the inner rumblings of your desires, you know, the ones that can’t be stuffed back into your heart no matter how hard you try. No matter how much it’s going to affect the well ordered dance of your life, you’ve got to take a chance on them. That’s a life worth living, even if your heart breaks a little bit while you’re creating it.
Thats when you become a Highwayman.
Laurie Sterns sensual new perfume “Highway” is that elegant gypsy of a scent, the perfume that’s arrived in my life just in time for all of my new adventures. It all began one afternoon last February I found myself in Berkeley sitting in Laurie’s luxurious “Purrfumery”, sniffing exotic oils and talking for hours about life, death, creativity and scent.
David Bowie, whom I loved to distraction had just become the brightest new star in the sky, leaving me in a mournful, yet strangely inspired state of mind. We agreed that both of us were feeling a relentless itch to experience something new in a fragrance, something that spoke to the deeper restless soul. Something that lasted in this world of built in obsolescence and cheap celebrity scents. In short, a beautiful botanical scent to build a cruelty free legacy upon, yet a perfume that would be remembered for a very long lifetime, even lifetimes, like the finest bottle of vintage L’Heure Bleue.
After many sips of the most fragrant & extraordinary liqueurs I’d ever experienced , she finally confessed that she’d been working on a perfume that she loved, something a bit more androgynous. Laurie’s perfumes are always wonderful, but there was something about the way her eyes were twinkling. Well… to be fair her eyes are always twinkling but I saw a yearning in them that I would soon understand. “Highway” is a deep dive headfirst into the world of classic perfumery, yet it is fluid , edgy and simply gorgeous.
I shut my eyes and she passed vial after vial under my nose. Faster than you could say “Wham Bam Thank You Maam!”, I found my head spinning with lusty fantasies…Pirates and 18th century rogues, sun drenched male, sweet tobacco , rum, neroli, hemp and leather with a musky undertone of warm full breasts, caramel and roses all tossed into a smoky cauldron of smoldering cedarwood, vanilla, spruce and moss.
“Highway” is a perfume that speaks to the romantic, restless part of all of us that longs to be swept away, to sit by an open fire in the Scottish highlands drinking fine whisky or making love under the stars on a gently swaying sail boat that’s dropped its anchor somewhere far from prying eyes. It’s learning to tango and rekindling the passion with your partner that’s been hidden away in your everyday life of diapers and dishes. It speaks to faraway lands and far away lifetimes and the promise that if we breathe deeply enough and are willing to risk everything that we think that we are, that we can recreate ourselves to become the very person that we’ve always longed to be.
I get that this is a whole lot of promise for one little bottle of perfume, but synergistically that’s the way that this scent works. Laurie Stern works only with the finest botanical essences and many of them are extremely rare and very very old, which is why her finest perfumes are limited editions. Most of them are accords that you’d never have the privilege of experiencing any other way. Her “Highway” is the story of the long, passionate and winding road of life, as told by one of the most skilled perfumers alive today and it’s impossible to smell it and not have it evoke a deep excitement and lust for life.
Put a drop between your palms, run your fingers through your hair, take a deep breath, feel your heart pound and then fall completely into the arms of your beloved. Just take the chances you’ve always wanted to take, start right now living the lifetime that you’ve always wanted to live, make the space for all of your fantasies to come true. I promise that it’s not too late….