If I could take it all back I would. The evenings spent scoffing at them. The side eyes while in Bed, Bath, & Beyond. Tossing them out when I received them as Christmas presents. I regret it all now, of course. But there was a time when I thought very poorly of candles. I’m not that woman any more. In fact, my identity as a woman is now nothing without candles. I’ll light a shrine to atone for my sins.
I thought candles were frivolous. They didn’t add anything to your life the way, say, food did. Or even a manicure. Candles weren’t shared experiences and if I’m being perfectly honest, other’s enthusiasm for them felt very sad. Any time a peer went on any sort of extended spiel about candles, I mentally likened them to the passionate Wisconsin woman who made an 11-minute video about the Winter Candy Apple and Iced Gingerbread candles from Bath & Body Works. Candles were shelved in the Lonely Woman/Under-appreciated Mom aisle. I did not want to shop there.
But, naive as I was, I didn’t realize that candles weren’t something you chose to be into or not. No, a love for candles is something that happens to you. One chilly fall evening this past year, I found myself in a new apartment. I’d recently ended a long relationship and my roommate’s cat was ignoring me in the other room. It was a—¿Cómo se dice?—“very low point!” And while my friends weren’t answering their phones because they were “at work” and “couldn’t talk because their boss would get mad at them” I found myself holding two candles my mother had given to me last Christmas. One was vanilla scented and the other bravely claimed to smell like “the Pacific” whatever that could mean. I was in the mood to take a risk, and in the financial situation that lighting the Pacific candle was the closest to a vacation I could get. I decided that should I light a candle alone in my room no one would know. It could be a little experiment to see what all the fuss was about.
I grabbed a lighter whose sole use prior to that moment was to get me and my roommate very stoned and lit the candle. I stared at the glowing flame. This isn’t...bad, I thought. I wasn’t immediately transformed into a thrice-divorced teapot, or whatever my specific fear was. As the wick burned down, it grew on me. I sat atop my neatly made bed and turned on some Joni Mitchell. And suddenly, all at once, there I was, in California, in the Pacific. Just like the candle promised. And I was calm. The moment was purely for myself. I was right, candles aren’t shared experiences. But what I once perceived to be sad, I’ve now realized is empowering. That’s right. I was empowered by my candle and its transcendental abilities that left me floating off the coast of Big Sur.
From there on out I quietly rescinded public statements I’d made disparaging candles. I’ve even bought a few more. Not a ton. I’m not an irresponsible owner. I’m aware of the stereotypes, obviously. I had been guilty of perpetrating them. But I have about four or five very nice candles with scents like Volcano, Serenity, and Endless Weekend. The last one hasn’t proven to extend time, but it does in a way slow it down.
2018 will be my first full year as a candle enthusiast. I'm ready for what the future holds. My path will be lit by aromatic flame.
For those interested in pursuing their own candle journey, might I recommend:
Wild Figs by Keap
Volcano by Capri Blue
Savannah by Archipelago Botanicals
Amber & Moss by P.F Candle CO.