I’ve never much cared for candy, at least not of the sort you get on Halloween (maple sugar candy? — sure, truffles? — lovely, Butterfingers? — entirely missable). The holiday itself, though, I adored.
My town’s big Halloween event — a chili supper and dessert auction hosted by the FFA — is going on right now. I’m hoping I get some trick-or-treaters or I’ll feel really irked about having shelled out $10 for candy (a bargain, I realize — we routinely spent several times that when I lived in the ‘burbs).
What I loved about Halloween was partly the costumes, but what I really loved was running around at night. (I loved running around at night so much that I figured out a way to get paid for it when I was in college, a feat I haven’t managed since).
For four glorious years, from third through sixth grades, I went out and about at night with one or another of my friends, and we roamed through the neighborhood, sizing up the houses, sizing up eachother, sizing up the other groups and gangs of kids out doing the same thing. Halloween was wonderful not because of the candy, and not even because of the costumes, though I loved the costumes. It was wonderful because kids were in charge. We were all over, and we were in control of the night.
Or so it seemed.
Really, of course, we only got that impression because we were fortunate enough to live in a place where our parents believed we could be let out at night, because they knew one another, and new we’d be taken into someone’s kitchen if things went wrong, and that that someone would likely do more or less what they would do.
I hate it when my most treasured memories turn out to be the products of socio-economic privilege, but I suppose that’s part of the price one pays for that ease. Just for tonight, though, I’m going to try to remember the leaves crunching underfoot and whirling down from the trees, and the darkness that seemed darker that night, despite our flashlights and throwaway luminescent wands, and the way we all looked like ourselves but not quite like ourselves, the way our costumes seemed funny inside but outside began to fit us like a second skin, and the way we ran through the streets and gardens and shortcuts that only kids knew. I’m going to remember running and spinning and whooping and standoffs that put your average western to shame. I’m going to remember night, and I’m going to remember freedom.