I once bought this candle.
Okay. I don’t know why I say “once” like it was the long, lost past. It was the past, yes. Specifically, it was 1997.
And I know it was at Kohl’s, because I walked the few blocks that it was from the Charlotte Street house I (mostly) grew up in. And I know this candle was in the home department, and not some tediously thrown together endcap, because I had to walk past the lingerie department to get there, and, in 1997, lingerie was still an embarrassing fact of life. I know said candle cost $9.99, because with the 15% off sticker, and accounting for sales tax, I bought it with a ten dollar bill. And I know the other woman in the home aisle with me must have been then the age that I am now. She looked so mature. So distinguished. Not like 30 year olds look these days, of course. She bought Lilac Breeze.
I don’t know why I remember things this way, either. I assure you, it is both comforting and haunting.
It, the candle I bought in 1997, with a ten dollar bill, in the Kohl’s home department, just past the lingerie, while sharing the aisle with a 30 year old who had a penchant for Lilac Breeze, was scented to mimic a rainy day, rustically simple, yet thinly veiled with the promise of new beginnings. Just like the rain smelled that last day I spent with you. It was mottled gray in color, some spots dark and angry, some spots teasing out a pearl-like glimmer of hope. Just like the sky that last day I spent with you.
In fact, everything about that candle brought me back to that day I spent with you.
(And, you must realize, of course, that I’m not talking about the day I bought a candle in 1997, with a ten dollar bill, in the Kohl’s home department, just past the lingerie, while sharing the aisle with a 30 year old who had a penchant for Lilac Breeze anymore.)
It stood about seven inches tall; tall enough to notice, short enough to not draw attention. It stood on a clear coaster-sized platform, sold separately, ($2.99) to prevent damage incurred by dripping wax.
The wax hardly ever dripped, though. I guess I just really never burned it much.
But know that this candle didn’t live a short life, either. It didn’t sit in a cabinet, unused, underappreciated. It was always there, reminding me of that last day I spent with you. From my childhood home, to a college dorm, to a college apartment, to a college house, to a post college apartment, to a post college townhome, and to another post college apartment.
On my bookshelf, my coffee table, my nightstand. You might have seen it a thousand times, or perhaps a thousand just like it, although I know you wouldn’t remember. That was exactly the point.
It was that final post college apartment, the one after the townhouse, where it was effectively laid to rest. The apartment on Grand Ave. A street noble in name. A neighborhood I know you would have liked.
It died, not because I no longer remembered that day, but because I could finally be at peace with beginning to forget.