Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Hero of this Story

Couple of the year: Ursula and Cruella DeVille!
A gruesome gang: Cruella, Khaleesi, Tink, Batman, Zombie, 90's gal
My costume, inspired by heroes who move in the dark.
"A hero can be anyone. Even a man doing something as simple and reassuring as putting a coat around a young boy's shoulders to let him know that the world hadn't ended." - Batman, The Dark Knight

Growing up, Halloween was always my favorite holiday. My mom tells me that when she asked me what I wanted to be, I would always reply with aplomb "something scary."

"Wouldn't you like to be a princess? Or a fairy? How about a ballerina?" she'd suggest.

"But Mom, that's the whole point of Halloween - to be spooky!" I'd say, rolling my eyes at her very tragic lack of awareness.

Halloween was always a time to be wildly creative, a time when I could create and not feel tethered by the assumptions that what I created need be "pretty" or "pleasing" to the eye in some way. My creations, and the creation of my costumed alter ego self, could be as dark and as loony as I wanted. I can still remember the thrill of creating my own costumes (Dracula painted in dripping blood and a drawn-on widow's peak, an Edward-Scissor-Hands-esque waitress who served up a tray of decapitated and dismembered Barbie and Ken dolls with ketchup blood oozing out) and setting up my own Willy Wonka candy factory on the windowsill of my bedroom after the neighborhood haul. After pouring our loot onto the floor, counting our pieces and sorting them into the appropriate piles of chocolates, sweets, sour things (my favorite), and the inedible amalgam of confusing candies reserved for my parents (i.e., O'Henry's, Good & Plenty's, Sugar Daddies, etc.), me, my sister and brother would take our bulging pillowcases filled with confections to our rooms to eat at our own discretion. (Note: the fact that my parents allowed us to take about 2 pounds worth of straight sugar to keep in our bedrooms seems both negligently ludicrous and deeply wise at the same time.)

Once in the confines of my room, I'd remove the wrappers from Starbursts and roll them together in my palms to create Starburst flavor-melange lollipops which I'd then place on toothpicks. I'd "glue" Twix bar sticks to the tops of Crunch bars with pieces of torn Tootsie Rolls, and slice mini Milky Ways into halves to stick (cut side down) onto the tops of 100 Grand bars and sprinkle with Nerds. As always, the reward for me was not so much in the trick-or-treating, or eating the candy but in the creation of my costume (and its accompanying shock value) and hybrid candy concoctions.

These days Halloween isn't so much about candy (though I'll never turn down a piece of black licorice or dark chocolate) or costume creations (every year I just want to be Hermione any way) as much as it is about admiring the irony of how the flora and fauna around me begins to wither, fade and die in such spectacularly brilliant displays of color, enjoying the delicious produce that begins to crop up in the stores for consumption (gem colored squash of all kinds and sweet and tart Pink Lady and Honey-crisp apples to name a few) and sensing the cooling temperatures that hold the promise of nights spent indoors with friends playing games and sipping spiced pumpkin soup. I find that the internal creative juice begins to flow more as the natural world begins to die; as if it is only without the distraction of nature's brushstrokes that we can begin to create our own work, as there is no competing with the work of this planet. The more I grow up, too, the more I realize the importance of observing the death and eternal renewal of nature, for, in nature, death, by its nature, holds the promise of birth (or rebirth). Awareness of death and acceptance of death (the "scary" stuff that as a little girl I always sensed Halloween opened the doors for) can be intensely healing, energizing and helpful for our creative selves. Since often times limitation spurs creativity, knowing our limitations as mortal human beings can allow us to be more creative, careful, intentional, perhaps even more kind. We might be more acutely aware that we are all made of and from the same stuff, and that we are the creators (and the heroes) of our own life stories.

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