Back in the days when I was dating, nearly every Halloween I started a new relationship. I didn’t actually realize that pattern until years later, when I was connecting the dots in my photo album. I’d see me in a costume and then realize that was the night that I met “so-and-so.” Was it just the costumes that did that, or was it those not-to-be-missed Newport Beach Halloween dances emceed by Richard Blade (note: beware clicking on that link–it’s loud!)? Perhaps it was because every October after I’d settled into the school year I was looking for something new and it was convenient to let that emerge on a night where I might be emboldened by a costume?
Since being married to John, we’ve dressed up nearly every year (except maybe that year that I was hugely pregnant with Catgirl–I don’t think I wore a costume). For a long time, we kept with our pirate theme, capitalizing on that look from the first time I ever danced with John (to Alphaville’s “Forever Young,” of course), but we’ve also worn black and worn girlie things or manly things (ok, that latter link is just a figment of my imagination, but it’s worth a click anyways), dressed as fictional characters, and even changed our minds at the last minute about our costumes.
So this post isn’t about me starting a new relationship this Halloween, even thought that’s how it began. And it’s not about what costume I’m going to wear, even though I’m looking forward to dressing up. What it’s really about is the need to be something else for a little while.
Although in recent years I’ve embraced risk-taking and facing my fears, I’m actually a fairly reserved and risk-adverse person (I’m a historian, for crying out loud!). I wear fairly conservative clothes, I listen to my music at a respectable volume, I match my socks and fold them into tidy rolls in my drawer. For the most part, I find routine and structure quite satisfying. I don’t wear loud makeup or attention-grabbing clothing or anything that will draw a second glance. I like plain and simple.
But then there’s this one day of the year where I try something totally different. Like a kimono. Or a tutu. Or a wig. It feels good to experiment with that alternate identity for awhile and to see how it feels. On a day when no one will much notice how far I’ve stepped outside of my normal boundaries.