Monday, October 31, 2011

Dress Up

Listening to a morning forecast that included creepy clouds, I grew nostalgic. Halloween used to be my favorite holiday--after the 4th of July, of course. Evenings filled with dress up and candy, weekends packed with trips to pumpkin patches and haunted houses, and kitchens consumed with fumes of apple pie and cider.

I recall picking out patterns and watching my mother slave away at her sewing machine, stitching our new identities piece by piece. The anticipation grew with every passing day, as we tried the legs, and then the arms and she adjusted as necessary. When show time commenced, nerves tumbled like boulders in my belly. Never one for surprises, I suddenly worried about long shadows and dark porches, leaf piles and bushes. Fearful possibilities played in the background of my mind as I shuffled down the street attempting to embody whomever I decided to become.

As I got older, my love for Halloween took a different turn. In high school we watched movies that managed to sabotage every dark corner in my imagination. Jack Nicholson remained with my friends for one scary evening; he still haunts me to this day. In college, Halloween ushered in homecoming and bonfires, and post-college parties offered parades and contests with huge prizes.

Then I became a teacher, and Halloween meant the end of first quarter; translation: piles and piles of grading. By the time the actual day arrives, I usually have little time to work myself into a temporary identity. My costumes generally involve last minute assembling and a lot of remorse. Surrounded by really creative get-ups, the annual bumming out begins. Why couldn't I think of something good?

This year, I have no costume. Sitting at a computer in a condo far away from trick-or-treaters, it would be entirely possible for me to miss the whole affair. Yet deep down, I know there are people everywhere setting aside their baggage and their worries, so they can step into the uniform of a superhero, or into the shoes of their favorite celebrity, or into the skin of a wildly colorful animal, and pretend--for one night--to be exactly who they wish to be at that particular moment in time.

Next year, I need to start planning a little early. Life can get pretty heavy sometimes; I don't want to miss out on my day off.

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