Today was a good day to be distracted. In my post for this morning I talked about it being a big anniversary. My mom, Penny, and I went to Cheyenne to get building supplies for the house. I’m finishing up the trim in the kitchen this week and that is the nearest place with inexpensive supplies. We got to take our time. We even stopped at a few other places along the way. Downtown was crawling with kids and parents in costumes. Which was pretty neat to see. It’s been a while. Last year with lockdown happening, we missed Halloween. Well, I didn’t miss Halloween much at all.
Honestly, other than the kids we saw in Laramie and Cheyenne wearing Halloween costumes, this holiday still needs some time (a lot of time) before I am on better terms with it. As I wrote before, it’s the anniversary of the beginning of my divorce, as well as being the anniversary of my doomed marriage. My former spouse was a BIG Halloween enthusiast. She would start preparing at the end of September. We would decorate the house and using piles of leaves and styrofoam headstones, we would make the front yard into a graveyard. She would always go full-tilt on costumes for the kids too. Some years she would make them herself, and other years, she would buy actual vintage military uniforms and pins and buckles and everything else to really give the costumes details. We would go to Island Grove in Greeley, where they have a historical village set up. And every year, she would sweep the costume contest with all three kids.
One year, my youngest won for his Red Baron costume, which was a red triplane built around his wagon. His older brother won with an authentic doughboy uniform from WWI, and his sister won with a Florence Nightengale nurse costume.
As cool as the costumes were, a price had to be paid. Not only were they very expensive, and we already lived on a shoestring budget, but the hours of work she threw into them created a lot of stress at home. Usually with a fight that would flare up as she was putting the finishing touches on their costumes as we were walking out the door to the contest. Walking on eggshells because anything to disrupt the flow of making award winning costumes carried a heavy penalty. The biggest bummer is the kids usually didn’t get to trick-or-treat in the same costumes. They wore a hardier sustitute. At any rate, by the end of it, the kids didn’t get to roam the neighborhoods pilfering candy. We usually got a jack-o-lantern pizza at Papa Murphy’s and hot wings and the kids watched a movie downstairs and we tried to relax. For the most part, all the joy had been sucked out of it. There were boxes of old costumes in the basement that had been worn long enough to win awards and were never touched again.
And forget about the anniversary. Everything was prelude to the big Halloween show. We never celebrated our anniversary.
Those years are fading, and I write them down now and feel almost like they happened to somebody else. But sometimes an event will trigger something in the back of my mind. The ghost hunting shows (my ex was a TAPS member and the ghost hunting group had big events to do, and I stayed at home with the kids). It was at least 20 pounds of spuds crammed into a five pound bag. Then the holidays began with the extra expenses and exhaustion that came with them. As is the case for most of us. Combine that with my usual dread of growing up in North Park with Halloween usually being the first snow of a long winter, and it wasn’t particularly fun.
This year I’ll be alone for the holiday. I will probably keep my lights off and my curtains closed. It might be a while before I get excited about the holiday again, but I have hope that one day that will change. I haven’t even been to a decent Halloween party since college. Maybe I’ll throw one myself one of these days. With costumes and decorations and all that. My former girlfriend had stories of legendary parties she would go to in Portland, and it always made me wonder what that was like. Maybe one of these days!
Anyway, I got what I needed for the projects I need to finish, and I was out of the house, visiting with my mom and driving. Penny still hates my driving and threw up on my mom’s coffee while we went into a store. She was mostly stressed that the back seats were folded down so I could fit 8′ sections of trim in the Jeep.
Someone wished me peace today for a hard day, and at the time, I think they understood how much harder it would be on me than I did at the time. They were right. It was hard. I realize now that I had been distracting myself. Now that I am home and the quiet of the evening is settling in, I decided to get these words down. I needed to.
This time of year hasn’t been a season of costumes and parties and candy for a long time. Because of the events that happened at this time of year for the last 22 years, it has become something else. A time of reflection on the past. A time of hope for the future. Maybe it’s more in line with Samhain. The end of the harvest. The beginning of Winter.
And burying old ghosts.