Perfume: You Never Stop Learning

Pan Am carry on bag

As a kid, I once sat on a curb with my grandmother and announced that when I was 22 years old I would be finished learning. I’d just memorized the stages of formal education — kindergarten, first grade, and on up through college — and now I knew when my schooling would be over.

Grandma laughed. “Honey, you never stop learning.”

This truth has been driven home lately as I’ve visited an 85-year-old friend every few weeks. She’s just discovered perfume. Eleanor (not her real name) has an acute aesthetic honed by her years as a Pan Am stewardess and living in the Congo, Taipei and Paris with her now-deceased husband, a CIA operative. Her apartment is an oasis of calm colors with something interesting everywhere you look…

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