As I am sure you can tell from my last post, I really love autumn. Like, really, really, really love autumn. And one of my favorite things about autumn, of course, is Halloween.
I can’t really explain why I feel so drawn to Halloween. It is not really because of the candy, or the costumes, or the spooky decorations. It is something deeper. Something more primal. It is the sound of leaves crunching underfoot, the crisp wind blowing, the rustling leaves make as they dance across the pavement. It is the moonlight cutting through the clouds as the sun sets. The world just feels different on Halloween night. As spring melts into summer and summer fades into fall, I find myself craving that feeling more and more. Maybe it’s just the culmination of all my favorite things about my favorite season wrapped into one day. Maybe it has more to do with the Halloween memories I have made over the years.
I remember a Halloween night in college where my friends and I were passing out candy for Trick-or-Treat at my house. Back in those days, before new neighbors moved in at the end of the street who could outdo me, I used to pride myself on having the scariest house in the neighborhood. We’d put up tombstones in the yard, have strobes flashing, blare scary music, and light the most menacing of jack-o-lanterns. Every year, at least one innocent trick-or-treater would end up crying, and several more would refuse to come up to the house to get their candy without a parent or older sibling clutching their hand. I should also probably mention that we were in costume for this. Well, on this particular year, my friend Aaron was short on time for assembling his costume, so he splashed some red paint on a white t-shirt and called it a day. I distinctly recall him lying down in the grass between the tombstones to be funny, but neither of us anticipated the result. Kids, especially older kids, were petrified of him lying still in the grass with his faux-bloodied shirt. Some of them simply could not tell whether he was real or fake, while others knew he was real and anticipated the jump-scare to come at any moment. We ended up starting a system where I would judge the age of the trick-or-treaters coming up the driveway and give him a nonverbal signal as to whether or not it was appropriate to jump out at them or not. It was an epic Halloween.
I remember countless trips over the years to Springboro Haunted Hayride on crisp, cool October nights. Boots and scarves and nervous laughter. Aaron and I squabbling over who was going to venture down the dark path of the haunted trail first. The poke-and-scratch of the hay on the wagon for the hayride. The headless horseman on his dark steed chasing after us, the grating sound of chainsaws, screams floating into the air. Warming up by the bonfire afterwards, hot cocoa in hand. I distinctly recall the goddamn bunny room, the last obstacle to pass through on the trail before safety, where the walls were lined with dilapidated stuffed bunnies. Last year, a man in a bunny head a la Donnie Darko was standing directly in front me. I saw him, but did not process what I saw, and I screamed bloody murder when he jumped out at me. My friend still makes fun of me for it. But I don’t care. I love a good scare. I’m the kind of girl who lets out a bloodcurdling scream then laughs immediately after. Sadly, though, the Springboro Haunted Hayride shut down after last season. This year we’re off to new haunts.
I remember Halloween two years ago, the first Halloween I spent with my now-boyfriend. We had decided to venture to the Oregon District with my friend, Emylee, and one of our mutual friends from grad school, Breann, with intentions to meet up with a couple more of our grad school friends later in the night. In reality, though, we never found our other friends, and Breann ended up disappearing to hang out with some of her coworkers from her second job, leaving just Emylee, Will, and I to fend for ourselves in cold, constant rain. While Will and I had never really expressed interest in each other before like that, something changed that night. From that night on, we both had a better idea of how we really felt about each other. Even though we wouldn’t officially start dating for a few more months, we fondly look at that time as “Pre-Halloween” and “Post-Halloween.”
There’s something liberating about Halloween. You can pretend to be someone or something entirely different, at least for a night. I love the candy and the lights and the costumes and the decorations. I love the bonfires, the hot cocoa, the rustling corn stalks, the crunching leaves, and the windy nights. But, most of all, I love the memories this time of year. After all, “it’s just a bunch of hocus pocus.”