Halloween is my favorite holiday because I love to dress up and I love to see people with their guard down about appearance. I love how some people are even more themselves, when they can hide behind costumes and makeup. I love candy and sweets and community… and kids out and not staring at screens.
Have you ever been in a place that you have returned to, many times, over the course of your life and you just feel like so many versions of yourself collide? It is like ghosts of your past have come to walk with you.
I took my boys out Trick-or-Treating, for the first time in two years, last night. I had missed it and I felt a little bit sad on Halloween, two years in a row. I even amazon-d them costumes, the year before last, they literally had “mom’s choice” and it was so cheesy-bad that it was hilarious; they went along with it, for me. I am thankful that my brother took them last year.
I asked my husband to get the kids ready and to take them to my grandma’s in Mannford, Oklahoma, so that I could make the forty-minute drive, after work. I pretty much grew up n that little town. My grandparents have lived in the same place, ever since I was born, and I have done Halloween there more times than I can count. The people in the little town always give out the best candy and go all out with decorations. My husband had to leave and my oldest went with friends, as “Homestuck” characters, so I had a very calm walk with the other three.
My grandma always works at her church’s trunk-or-treat. It used to be so much bigger, with a pumpkin patch and more than 20 cars and games, but the area has grown older and people have moved on. My grandma and her friends made up the four cars that still met there and gave out candy like they have for so many years. My grandma, always the social butterfly, was talking with her friends and my son was giving candy from, his backpack, to kids that were going to her car, when I arrived to trade off with my husband. Later, when he got up, he saw that there was a large bag of candy behind him. I hugged my grandma and some of my family that arrived, then, walked back to grandma’s block, with the kids, and we started on the path that I have walked at least 20 times in my life, at different pivotal points. Some of the people that gave my kids candy, gave me candy, when I was small. I couldn’t help but close my eyes and remember going as princesses and witches and pumpkins. We stopped at the kids grandparents house (my ex’s parents). They are always the same, nice, gaming and video nerds that they’ve always been. They’ve never been anything but nice and caring to the kids. I am pretty sure that they have not heard from the kid’s dad in as long as it has been since I have. They invited us in and their house was like a time capsule. I remember walking down the same hall and looking in the same mirror, as a senior in high school, pregnant with my first child. I sat in that living room with my oldest two and their dad and opened Christmas presents and sat through, I don’t know how many, boring football games that I did not make time to understand. We left to finish trick-or-treating and I think they were surprised to get a big bear-hug from me. We continued walking and made it around my grandma’s block and made our way back to the church, to cut through the yard, and make it to the next block. My kids and I jumped the same ditches that I made a point to leap over, every chance that I got, on my walks to and from high school. We walked past an overgrown honeysuckle bush and my son said something about how someone should get rid of the bush because it covered the sidewalk. For a second, I was a teenager, 17, walking past that bush, in the spring, smelling the flowers and thinking “not today” and “I’ll live as long as these flowers” (I met the kid’s dad before the flowers died). I told the kids that the bush was special and that someone should trim it back because the flowers are pretty and smell sweet. We walked through another neighborhood, where I spent so much time. My grandparent’s best friend’s, Charlotte and Joe, lived in this neighborhood. I used to walk there with my mom every Halloween. Charlotte always had us come in and her house always smelled like wood, sweet tobacco, and antiques; not bad, just a smell that I grew up with and connect to old friends smoking, laughing, and watching television, while I played with antique toys and explored a plethora of nick-knacks. Charlotte has had Alzheimer’s for years now and Joe is still his sweet self that loves to hunt and studies birds. Their house looked empty but I went back to a time when I was dressed as a princess, carrying an overfilled bag of candy, on their porch, for a second. I told my second son about Charlotte and my voice cracked, unexpectedly, when I told him that she has had Alzheimer’s for a while now. He made me feel better when he asked if those are some of the people that I work with and asked how speech pathologists help them, if they forget everything. I explained as we walked for a little while and then spent some time mindfully walking with my ghosts and reflecting. I think that I was supposed to be there, at that moment, with those memories. It was a nice distraction from the previous portion of the day.
I had been dreading talking to my work about having to be gone, for at least a couple of weeks, for my upcoming surgery. I have been pushing for clients and very frustrated about being so “strapped for cash” when I need to work and get clinical fellowship hours. My supervisor and I were meeting and she was talking about how they need to help get my schedule filled out and it just came out; it probably sounded crazy that I was so matter-of-fact about it but I have really tried to disconnect myself and focus on just being at work or with my kids or husband, when I am not alone. It isn’t ethical for me to fill up my schedule with clients who need me and then leave them hanging or for someone else to manage them. That being said, I am pretty broke and trying to figure out how to cover my surgery and it is weighing pretty heavy on me. The unethical “devil on my shoulder” is kicking me because I am pretty sure that I have sabotaged myself until I have recovered from surgery. I am paid per client and my husband is having surgery on his nose next week and will be out for the week. I have considered posting as house cleaning help, on Craigslist, or taking a holiday position at one of the stores in the mall. I kind of hope that I have surgery before I would finish being trained for a weekend job though. I usually make things work, this won’t be any different. It is just kind of frustrating to still have to worry about money so much. That is kind of what all of that school was for. Everything works out, in the end. I would love to be able to talk to those ghosts and to tell them to worry less and to just enjoy every moment; maybe that is good advice for now. Just breathe and be “in the now”.