I love Halloween. From posing as the Phantom of the Opera in third grade to pulling off my best Audrey Hepburn from “Breakfast at Tiffany’s” in my third year in college, I can’t remember a time when I didn’t dress up for the occasion.
That’s why, during a recent dinner out with my parents, I found myself wondering out loud, “What will I wear this year for Halloween?”
However, much to my surprise (read: embarrassment), my very earnest verbal inquiry was met with raised eyebrows and bemused smirks from my usually understanding folks. “Halloween?” My dad cried. “Aren’t you a little too old for that yet?”
Here’s the thing. I’m over 30. 32, to be exact. I suppose it’s an age in which most people– like those who adhere to the notion that life ends at 30 (hi, Hollywood!) — believe that one should be more concerned with timeshares and taxes than “Should I be Sherlock or Dr. Beverly Crusher for Halloween?” Though I genuinely believe the thirties is the perfect breeding ground for so many amazing things — you don’t have to have it all figured out quite yet, but you have enough figured out to just finally let go and enjoy your life way more than ever – my parents’ reaction did give me pause. Is it time for me to hang up my Halloween duds for good?
The college roommate who gleefully lit my faux Holly Golightly cigarette holder is now married with three sons. My cousin, the one who was basically the Raoul to my Phantom as we trick-or-treated for nearly a decade together, the one who was deemed “trouble” because he once sported too many facial piercings, is now a vice-principal and a new father. As for me? I am leaning towards repeating my Star Trek costume, the Dr. Beverly Crusher number I bought when I was 22, because it’s not only comfortable, but makes my butt look good too.
It’s not that I think what my friends are doing is “better” than what I am doing with my life nor do I think the reverse. I think we all have our own troubles and triumphs. But, as my dad’s gaping mouth at dinner clearly prodded, how could I not rethink my life choices? While I debate the merits of dressing up as Sherlock Holmes twice in three years, I have a friend who is worried about whether her daughter should dress up as a ladybug or a lion for her first Halloween. So I asked myself: Is this really where I want to be? Is this who I want to be?
Like Holly Golightly, the famous Capote character I mimicked over ten Halloweens ago, I, too, the single thirtysomething that I am, like impromptu house parties, felines, and am not required to compromise my schedule with anyone else’s; I put my own needs and desires first because I can. It’s a luxury that not many people have, and I treasure it.
However, I admit that I might be a little too comfortable with my lifestyle choices. As much as I like being the master of my own Netflix queue, a night of Netflix and Chillin’ with someone other than my cat sounds fun. In fact, it’s something that I very much desire, even if I seldom verbalize it. Of course having that would require leaving my much beloved comfort zone, and that causes me more anxiety than any Halloween slasher ever could. Underneath the confident black-and-blue Star Trek onesie – or maybe checkered Deerstalker? – is a disguise of dissonance, worn like a second skin. Yep — the exterior costume worn on October 31 is just a placeholder for my bigger life decisions.
But that’s precisely why I’ve decided that I will wear a Halloween costume this year. And probably the year after, and probably for ad infinitum.
To me, Halloween is the only time a year when we can forget where we are currently situated on our life timeline through pure – and legal — escapism. We are not required to have a date nor meet in-laws, and almost never does anyone ask about your job or your “plans.”
We have 364 other days in the year to wonder about the direction of our lives, to face judgment and presumptions, but for only one night a year, we can drop our defenses and pretend to be someone else for change — just for the fun of it. We can experience their joys, troubles, and, yes, even photon torpedoes. We can look scary, goofy or sexy without prejudice, and put in as little or as much effort into our costumes without criticism – people just appreciate that you tried. And whenever I find that amazing accessory to finish off my costume, after putting together the right shoes and the coiffed wig, I finally feel like I am able to control something in my life, at least for a moment.
Then on November 1, after I’ve taken off my wig, I can decide who I want to be. Or not.
Oh, and I’ve decided on the Sherlock Holmes costume, by the way.
(Image via NBC)