So rolls the changing year, and so we change;
So rolls the changing year, and so we change;
-Dinah Mulock Craik
Fall always causes me to look back. It’s a time of transition and change, of death and slumber. Leaves change color and fall. The winds change direction.
People and ideas around us constantly move and change, in a whirlwind of activity. College never seems to stand still for very long, especially in autumn.
Take Halloween, for example. I grew up in Connecticut, and Halloween always was this incredible time of the year. Everything was once again beginning to take shape in our lives, and we would be settling into school, becoming familiar with our classes and teachers.
We had finally shaken off all the dust in our minds from the summer, and we were looking ahead. The first sign of the holiday, and the first sign of the excitement, would be the first day of October.
It just felt different than September somehow.
The colors were warmer, but the air was cooler. Everything was in transition. Fall is the dying of the summer and birth of the winter. Everything settles into itself to prepare for the long sleep ahead.
The air took on an unmistakable crispness and coolness, and you could almost taste the candy in your mouth. With the changing of the leaves, you thought about your own transformation that would take place at the end of the month, on that faithful night; what your costume would be.
For some kids, costume wearing is almost a profession. I remember certain classmates always having the best costume, year in and year out. Pirates and clowns were nothing compared to the Ninja Turtles or Barbie. When your parents were willing to buy you a costume, nothing could stop you.
I was never one of those kids. Instead, I wore the costumes my mom would make, which, needless to say, were not the best. She tried, but when your best friend is a Disney Princess and you’re a Christmas tree, there’s just no comparison.
But that’s what made it fun; I knew I wasn’t going to have the best costume, so throughout the course of the night, if it got ruined it made no difference. My friends, however, spent many Hallow’s Eve’s crying over a rip in their dress or their crown not staying on their heads. Me? I was perfectly happy being the Pilsbury Doughboy. Nothing can ruin your night when you’re dressed as a bag of M&M’s.
Going out at night was a treat in itself. I thought that we were staying out into the wee hours of the mornings, but when you’re a kid, anything past nine o’clock qualifies. The entire experience of trick-or-treating was something magical; mystical.
As we got older though, everything was tainted. I remember distinctly when it all changed for me. When I went to carve my pumpkin on my front steps, when I was nine I found that it had been stolen. It was the biggest disappointment I had ever experienced.
I couldn’t believe that anyone would ever do something like that – a senseless act of crime. It all seemed so pointless after that, like the entire holiday meant nothing. Thus, was my transition into reality; growing up.
As we got older, our lives adjusted to the coming of adulthood. It was no longer about going and getting as much candy as you could and ending the night practically in a sugar- induced coma.
Now that we were in high school, we had to be cool. A transition took place, and now it was all about going to parties and hanging out.
We had to watch scary movies and pretend that we wouldn’t rather be out dressed as the Jolly Green Giant.
No one dressed up as anything ridiculously stupid, and if a costume was even involved at all it was usually just a pair of ears and maybe a tail.
College is very much the same as high school. Now Halloween is all about going to the best place and doing the craziest things. Our innocence is lost now, and everything is changed. We care what others think about us, and our actions are driven by others perceptions of us.
I’m guilty of this as well. You won’t see me going to class on Thursday with green face paint and a pointy black hat. I wish I could, though. I want to have a Halloween Parade again where all the classes get out of doing work and walk around and show everyone their costumes. Those were the days. Even school took a backseat to the excitement of Halloween.
Is going to school and being ‘adult’ really all that great? Most people won’t even realize it is Halloween, and if they do, most won’t do anything about it. An entire holiday, loved as a kid, gone because we have to learn, and be mature adults. But that’s no fun.
I want to wear a homemade costume and walk around and get candy. I want to fall asleep that night, not worrying about the amount of calories in a snickers bar, but instead wondering what I’m going to be next year.
I want my autumn transition this year to go back to my childhood. I want to change from being an uptight, wound up college student to being a kid again. Instead of being self conscious- fearless, instead of being stressed- carefree. Overall, much happier.
We should all aim to be a little more childlike this year, even if just for that one day. Eat candy, drink apple cider, and dress up in a homemade costume. I promise not to laugh.