When I was a kid, halloween symbolized three things: dressing up (in the best hand-made costumes that won every costume contest, courtesy of my mom), getting out early from school, and candy. I've never been a big candy or sweets person, but somehow it seemed more desirable on October 31st. In honesty, I think it was partly the unspoken contest that the neighborhood kids had to see who could collect the most.
As I got older, Halloween became child's play. In high school and college, and even early 20s, it was a holiday for youngsters. No self-respecting 18 year old would be caught trick or treating unless it was clear that they were solely doing it for the candy or to escort a younger sibling. It was just one of those things you got too "cool" for at a certain age (or as cool as I got, anyways, which wasn't very much but I had some dignity).
Now, as a 30-something, the holiday has once again become acceptable for several reasons. First of all, I have nieces and nephews of trick or treating age and I just love watching the costumes they come up with (or in the case of the younger ones, simply how cute they look dressed up). Secondly, there's apparently an age at which it once again becomes "cool" to revert back to ones youth and enjoy things like costumes and halloween parties all over again, though the closest we probably get to collecting candy is drinking some sort of chocolate-infused martini or something... almost the same thing.
But there's yet another reason that I now see the beauty in halloween. For one night of the year, we truly get to be anyone or anything we want to be. Not in the figurative sense of reaching for your dreams and making things happen, but in the very literal sense. Now I'll admit, my costume for this year's early halloween celebration was something that I happened to have been loaned from a family member and I picked it because it was both cute and convenient. But if I had the time, energy, and fashion skills, I could have chosen a costume that really spoke about me. I could have chosen something shocking, or sexy, or geeky, or avant garde, or reflective of pop culture, or simply funny... whatever self I wanted to show to the world.
Looking back at my costumes as a kid, my favorite was the year I went as gypsy. Not only was it a beautifully made costume, but I think it was the one that most spoke to me. I'm a wandering spirit at heart. I'm not satisfied with the normal, the status quo. I never have been, and though I never say never, I doubt I ever will be. I'm constantly on a journey in life - sometimes emotionally and spiritually, and sometimes physically. It's not that I aspire to be a traveling gypsy, but I recognize in me a gypsy soul of sorts, and the costume captured it perfectly.
So I'm curious... if for one day, you could be anything, or anyone, what would you choose?
|Me as a gypsy on halloween, circa 1989|