Grown-Up Halloween

I lost my Halloween spark in the tenth grade when I was told, or decided, or was shamed into thinking, I was too old to trick or treat.

The next decade of October 31sts played out as a series of drunken disappointments and unrealized expectations.

My mid twenties felt like a promising comeback with a three-peat of memorable homemade costumes. But wearing a creative masterpiece amidst stumblers and black-outs never felt as epic or satisfying as parading around my elementary school in that one-of-a-kind red poodle skirt, hand-stitched by my grandma.

Lately I’ve been struggling to find my place. It feels a little like the last ten years of Halloween parties, without the elaborate makeup. I know how I got here, but I’m not sure I want to stay. I look around and everyone else is having the time of their lives. I feel lonely. And invisible. And unfulfilled. There are moments when I don’t remember why I came.

On halloween night my best friend and I arrive at her sister’s around 6:30pm. We came to chaperone the trick or treaters, ages 10 to 16.

I trek down into the living room in my makeshift flashdance costume to talk some shit to the teenagers and try to rev up my Halloween spirit.

Minutes later, my best friend’s sister appears with a child’s dinosaur costume.

My eyes light up.

I strip down to everything but the leotard and start to squeeze my adult legs into the unforgiving fabric. After a deep inhale and a few energetic leaps in the air, I secure the costume around my waist. I’m ninety percent sure I’ll still be wearing it when I get to court the next morning, but I haven’t been this excited in October since the late nineties.

My best friend’s ten year old niece appears in the living room.

“Bag or pillow case?”

“Of course you have to take the pillow case. We’re not trying to mess around out there, this is serious business.”

“No, no no. I mean, which one do you want? Bag or pillow case?”

“Excuse me?”

“You gotta have something to hold your candy.”

And so it began. The “almost thirty” resurrection of a tradition I gave up in early high school.

At the first house I stood sheepishly in the background putting on my best “enthusiastic chaperone” face.

The kids instantly harassed me and my best friend for our reluctance and hesitation.

It was the type of peer pressure I’d only seen on T.V. during TGIF.

As the night wore on, my confidence strengthened. My shame slowly evaporated in the warmth of the experience.

Most of the people handing out candy were so impressed with the elaborate dinosaur protruding from my belly, they didn’t even look up to see my adult-sized breasts or slowly creeping crows feet.

At every other house, my best friend followed “trick or treat” with a loud and apologetic “we’re adults.”  before straightening her forearms to reveal the opening of her light blue pillow case. I’d cautiously hand over my felt pumpkin and hope for a miniature bag of regular M&Ms.

We creeped and screeched through the yards with scary decorations.

We talked to a ninety year old woman about supporting Barack Obama.

We got countless compliments and positive affirmations.

It was the most face-to-face contact with strangers I’ve experienced in years.

Just as we arrived back at the house, it started to rain. We dumped our candy on the floor to trade for our favorites and reflected on the quality and quantity of our stash. My face felt tight from all the smiling and laughing.

We spent the rest of the night gossiping in the kitchen and munching on fun size chocolate.

It was the best time I’d had in months. The most awesome halloween in memory.

An important reminder that you’re never too old to dress-up like a dinosaur and go door-to-door begging for sweets.