Collected Item: “The Love of Candles”
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The Love of Candles
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Before 2020, I hardly ever burned a candle. My parents had forbid it, convinced me or my siblings were going to forget about it and burn the house down. My dorm room had extremely strict (and understandable) rules about open flames and heat sources. It wasn’t until I had graduated college and moved back into and then out of my parents’ house that I was free of these regulations. Even then, though, it never occurred to me to buy candles. My favorite scents were often nature-based and could easily be experienced by visiting the ocean, or the forest, or the occasional bakery. It wasn’t until the pandemic, when I was living in Ohio without being comfortable traveling to the ocean, or to the forest, or in public at all, that I turned to candles. Soon one impulse purchase of a sea salt and balsam scented candle turned into a constant hunt for all of my favorite scents, to bring me to places I didn’t feel safe or responsible traveling to. My collection grew rapidly, and for the past year or so I’ve had a candle lit in my home almost every day. I never thought something a simple as a $7 candle I found at TJ Maxx or Bath & Body Works could bring me so much peace, calming my need to return to my favorite far-off places until it is once again safe to do so. Don’t get me wrong, candles still can’t compare to the real smells I adore, but even a weak imitation is better than a scent-less longing. Even though I’m currently residing in Ohio, I can use candles to feel connected to my home state of California, or my favorite places to visit, bringing comfort and familiarity in a time that is anything but comfort and familiar. My bank account may not be happy with me given this new habit, but it’s a price I am willing to pay.
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Arizona State University, HST 643, Sensory History, candle, ocean, smell, Ohio, California
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