I’ve always loved Halloween: the weeks in October dedicated to picking out the perfect costume(s), the pumpkin-flavored goodies constantly surrounding me, the excuse to eat candy throughout November (after it’s been organized in order of deliciousness, of course—Reese’s at the top, Starbursts at the bottom). While I haven’t been trick-or-treating in years it seems as if the joy of Halloween never left me. During my high school years, I always arrived at school fully costumed (Elphaba, Carrie Bradshaw, Ballerina, Alex/Jennifer Beals from Flashdance…) and managed to celebrate All Hallow’s Eve in a fully festive manner.
This year, however, brought new challenges and excitement to the 31st of October. Unsure of the typical college protocol, I began talking with my friends mid-September about costume ideas. As the week of Halloween approached we still had yet to put together a solid plan. Hence, we found ourselves in Times Square the night before the big holiday, desperately searching for some variety of clothing to call a costume.
As we pushed through the crowds of tourists and fought to cross streets without traffic, my friends kept grumbling in frustration, “This is ridiculous! We live here! Why can’t people just move at a regular pace?” We proceeded to the center of the square and had a foreign tourist snap a picture of us with the glimmering city in the background. Snickering, we trotted down Broadway, laughing at the clueless visitors to our city, trying our best to remain oblivious to the greatness that was the center of “our” city.
We stopping in a souvenir shop, desperately hoping that between all the blatant tackiness we could find costume-worthy materials. And suddenly, between all the tawdrily decorated mugs and obnoxious postcards, green foam Statue of Liberty hats caught our New Yorker eyes.
“Guys, how ridiculous would it be if we wore these?” Nods. Many nods. We explained that we were from “uptown” and “just being silly” as we bought I ♥ NY shirts to complement the crowns.
On the last night of October, three girls sat on my floor decorating premium New York tourist apparel with gobs of glitter glue and even more enthusiasm. We paraded across campus, down into the subway, and back out into midtown (where we were swarmed with cameras trying to capture our ridiculousness—superb celebrity moment) wearing an eclectic conglomeration of everything we were and everything we said we were not.
Feeling ridiculous was not even an option—everywhere we walked we were surrounded by Lady GaGas, vampires, bunnies, and even a seven-foot-tall baby.
And now, while I vow never to wear the shirt again (it makes an excellent chair cover) and keep the foam crown looped around my bookshelf as nothing more than a memory, I realize the extent to which I love Halloween. It has nothing to do with the candy and parties (well, maybe) but so much to do with just being able to laugh at yourself, giving us a break from the seriousness that is reality and just allowing us to be spontaneous and impractical, non-judgmental and free. And while I cannot advocate a human ostrich riding the cross-town bus on a daily basis, the one night a year we get to step outside of ourselves and just enjoy being whomever we want to be should never be taken for granted!