Last week I took the kids to a park after work and realized how deeply in love I am with where we live. We moved here six years ago after flitting up and down the eastern seaboard and finally, hopefully, settling into a small town my brother jokes we pointed to on a map while blindfolded and said here – let’s move here.
Maybe it was the crisp, sunny day and how the park was framed by giant trees bursting with color. Maybe it was the mix of hot moms in designer jeans and the filthy abandoned pair someone had laid out on top of fallen leaves by the gazebo, but I felt this sense that I am home. This town is just pretty and gritty enough to make me want to put down roots and maybe even dream of buying a restored colonial across from the park because I can’t give up on wanting more, apparently.
Last night we went to the halloween parade in town. We’ve been every year it hasn’t rained since we moved here, but this was the best time by far. The weather was perfect – cool enough for a jacket or warm enough for kids in costumes – and our youngest was abuzz with that blend of wonder and horror that is halloween. One mask at the parade unnerved her. She talked about it all the way home and even brought it up again this morning. I don’t know if you’ve ever seen it, but it’s the Edvard Munch Scream mask, only it looks like blood is running down the front of it. It’s a scary face that won’t stop bleeding.
This morning I heard myself explaining how it might work – that there might be a clear plastic mask over top and some kind of pump that pulls up the red water, I heard myself carefully emphasize, so that it pours down again. I was trying to make it sound fun in a science-y kind of way to a 4-year old. Meanwhile I was pissed at the teenager who wore it to a parade and the odds that she even noticed it. But Halloween has always been like that. Too scary in sudden, unexpected ways. That’s what I love about it, anyway.
What does this have to do with drinking? Nothing, at first glance. I did halloween sober last year. It was fine. We invited people in after trick-or-treating and everyone had red wine except me. (Well, neither did the kids.) I felt a little stiff and like my smile was stretched so tight it might snap, but still I had fun. The kids got too much candy that I helped them eat in record time. I muddled through somehow.
This year feels different. There is no muddling. Last night we had dinner at a pub before the parade and, sure, I noticed people around me drinking. But I didn’t miss it or spend time convincing myself why I shouldn’t miss it. I’ve felt that way lately and I wonder if that’s what people mean when they say their obsession with alcohol lifted. It’s too soon to tell, for sure, but I’m hopeful. I feel on strong grounds, spiritually, and I know this is key. I’ll write about it sometime. I’ve been turning it around in my head, still nervous to share something so personal and therefore open to misinterpretation. So for now I share a post about a halloween parade and a bleeding mask because that’s less scary. I love this time of year.