Candleside.

You know the smell right after you’ve blown out a candle? I love that smell. For the most part, it reminds me of two main memories: 1) December birthdays, cold nights, white cake and white buttercream frosting, as well as 2) candles blown out after the last of the holiday guests have gone on their way.

It also occasionally reminds me of church. I’d yawn and shift and fidget during the entire service, dutifully standing up, sitting down and kneeling, simply going through the motions. I’d frequently get lost in the construction of felt banners which were hung around the church, or in the dissection of matronly hairstyles, costume jewelry or the tattered pages of hymnals. But I really perked up at the end of the service, and not just because it was the end: it was when the altar candles were extinguished.

Why can’t they make a candle that’s scented with that same blown out candle smell? That would be fantastic.

I started my slow process of getting ready for bed an hour ago and had just blown out my firewood-scented candle I’d been enjoying most of the evening. It transported me back to yet another memory: walking mile after mile on the esplanade in Redondo Beach years ago. There was a home that smelled like freshly blown out candles each time I passed it, morning or night. Heavenly, but my brain was torn. Which memory would I revel in tonight?

I settled on remembering the white cake and buttercream of my youth. It’s true — they don’t make ’em like they used to. Mr. Lowe’s bakery in Anaheim is long gone, but I have yet to find a cake as good as theirs. Sure, others are great in their own way, but the frosting would — ever so slightly — crunch as you ate it, like the tiniest of sugar granules was asking to be relished before being completely dissolved. And relish we did for many holidays, birthdays and family celebrations.

But it doesn’t stop there: don’t even get me started on the goo that was always left behind on the cake’s waxy cardboard platform. With each piece that was cut, the thin layer of cakey, sticky deliciousness would also be swiped — sometimes with a fork, but usually with a finger when nobody was looking. My brother and I were both quite fond of it.

It’s funny what we hold onto in our lives: the smells and tastes from childhood, and the reminders of them that visit us in our adult lives. Those candle-scented moments seemed so insignificant at the time, yet what they marked (the end of a celebration, more or less) is something that’s part of my little bubble — my cocoon — to this day. I love being candleside. Had the ones from my childhood been surrounded by angst or trauma, no doubt their place in my heart may be microscopic — if it existed at all. But because they’re good and warm, happy and fond — even sparkly and joyful — I am thankful for their lasting effect.

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