Sunday, November 06, 2016

Halloween 2016 After-Action Report

You know it’s been a good one when you wake up the next day and Tuesday feels like a Sunday. 

It was very low-key landmark of a Halloween, with our grown children not only doing their thing outside of the family home, but now three hours away by car. Big Pink was well appointed for the season, however, and the late October weather at 7,600 feet was pleasant enough to set the ceramic owl candy bowl on the table on the porch and watch it get dark.

Altogether, I’ve been surprised at the mildness of the seasons in the San Luis Valley so far—outside, of course, their famously frigid winters, which we’ve yet to experience. In Colorado Springs, we would have had our first snow by now. (I don’t think they’ve had one yet, come to think of it.) At this altitude, on this high, flat valley floor, I expected the low temperatures to be more severe, but the upper 20s F are as low as they’ve gotten so far. The days themselves have been textbook autumn, 60s F and pleasant. As far as the weather goes, it’s the one thing we can’t complain about this year, at least not in Colorado.

At least I’m still in Colorado. I can’t think of a more agreeable state of the Union in which to live. After a year of change and loss, I still have that.

October was a turning point for me. Aside from putting another year of life on planet Earth behind me and a colonoscopy, I made a more tolerable peace with my situation in what I’ve come to call Spudville. On the whole, there are any number of places I’d rather be than in a fixer-upper on the poor side of a small and remote valley town, but this is where I am until I write my way out of it. The week I spent alone here with four grown cats and a kitten was something of a necessary psychic sweat lodge. I actually enjoyed a smidge of peace in my reflections as I watched the last light of October 2016 bleed from the sky.

The trick-or-treating wasn’t as widespread as I saw on the previous Friday night—the 28th!—when I saw families in cars park on a street, then let their children out to hit nearby businesses and homes in the downtown area. I learned at the liquor store that this is a Monte Vista thing, in which parents take their smallest children out on the Friday of the weekend closest to Halloween, and that many businesses indulge these children.

I was told this might happen on Saturday night, too, but I saw no one then. Halloween proper was actually very quiet. I didn’t see a child over six years old the entire evening. This was fine inasmuch as I don’t care to deal with bored teenagers and their shenanigans, but my God, what a bunch of fat, lazy parents!

To drive one’s children block-by-block across a town so small, so monotonously flat it bores me to tears to walk it, staggers the imagination. Half the thrill of Halloween for me, as a child, and as an adult leading children, was walking the streets of our neighborhood after dark. That one would only walk so far, and then climb into a car, is repellently weak.

Well, these are the kind of people I live among now, and I’m more or less making my peace with that, too. As I annoy myself no end reminding myself, circumstances could be far, far worse. If I’m that bothered, I should write a fabulous book that’s so compelling and captivating, it can’t help getting optioned for the movies. Then I can exercise some options of my own.

I gave up on sitting outside at 8 p.m. My wife had the 2015 film The Witch cued up to stream, so we watched that. I might or might not get the Drive-By review up later. (If that last statement is linked, then I did.) The doorbell rang at 8:20, but that was all for the trick-or-treaters on our side of Spudville. I like to imagine it was a little more active and fun on the west side of Broadway where the people with the nicer houses live. Maybe next year I’ll walk out and have a look.
Looking at this now, I realize this is probably the most Halloweeny-looking house I’ve ever occupied.

Whatever my feelings on The Witch, a major part of my Celtic New Year’s resolutions was a resolve to sit with my wife and watch something, anything with her in the evening. I spend way too much time by myself in my office. It’s not healthy, and I have nothing to show for it besides. So far, as of this writing a week out from Halloween, I’ve kept true. Not coincidentally, my productivity has improved.

Once The Witch finished, I went upstairs to get the real party started, complete with beer and music by candlelight/ Halloween lights. I smile to think how stupid frantic I used to make myself over this time of year.  I used to be into that sort of thing in which I had to listen to certain music, read The October Country again (I’d kept that tradition for over a decade, actually), watch certain movies, or else it wasn’t really Halloween. I’d get so caught up in it that I would find myself wishing it was over already, if only to be free of all these seasonal obligations, as useless as they were onerous.

These spasms finally burned themselves out a few years back, once I accepted that Halloween 2007 was the last best Halloween I’d ever know, and not just because my children were young and I could accompany them through the neighborhood. Colorado Springs, along with the rest of the USA, was generally a happier, more optimistic place to be in 2007. It hasn’t been that way since the Great Recession of 2008, when the professional workforce was permanently hollowed out in IT and other tech fields. 

It’s another story for another time. You probably already know most of it yourself. The bottom line is that I used to live in a neighborhood where the neighbors dressed up their garages, set up tables with snacks and beverages, and made a giant party of Halloween. As a favorite sad song I know goes:

Those days are gone forever
Over a long time ago
Oh yeah

Neither the time nor the place nor the people are the same anymore, nor have they been for some time now. It is what it is. The nature of things, the way of the world. It just so happens that being damned hard to accept is part of what it is.

So I went up to my office, cranked the music, and cracked the caps on multiple beers. I heard all the songs I needed to hear. Everything I needed to read—and especially write—would be waiting for me in the morning. I’d declare it a New Year as I flipped the calendar page, just because. We need all the positive jive we can scare up to get us through the rest of the festival season, and thus fortified for that vast zone of cold nothing that is January through April, a.k.a. the Void

All told, it was a good Halloween. It did everything I needed it to do. Now, onto November, and what remaining time I have left to make the most of.
See you next year?