To those of you who’ve been reading my posts since August, it should come as no surprise that as a kid, I had unique expectations of Halloween.
Of course, Halloween was magical for me. Not just because of the candy, the spooky, ghosty stuff and the chance to run around outside in the dark, but because of the costumes.
Halloween was a yearly opportunity not just to wear a costume, but to become someone else—ideally someone painfully glamorous, royal or, at the very least, of Elvin blood. This character would be famous for her death defying dance & acrobatic moves and also possess powers like flying, mind reading and such. She was envied by women, loved by men—or boys, at least. In a strange twist that can only make sense to a child living in Middle America, she was often also a cheerleader.
So you’re thinking Wonder Woman, Catwoman, Bionic Woman or maybe Princess Leia—all solid, respectable choices.
But of course, Wonder Woman wasn’t for me. Oh no, a regular old Wonder Woman costume would not affect the transformation I needed. I had to create something that, in its beauty and originality, in the very effort of its creation, would bring me magic. And that magic would transform me from a weird, underachieving, semi-pariah into the “secret me,” the real me, the me I might have been if only…
Preparing for Halloween, I’d imagine my classmate’s faces when they saw me in my fabulous costume and realized they had never really seen me before, that I was in possession of something special and unique. They would fall to their knees, of course. Girls who had been mean would suddenly offer me the chocolate milk from their lunches, heck, they’d give their entire lunch, just for a chance to be my friend. And cute, popular boys who’d made fun of my Canadian accent and pelted me with snowballs would send me love notes soaked with apolpgetic tears.
It’s a good thing I had a vivid imagination, since that’s as far as my “magical transformation” ever got. Needless to say, I’d have fared much better (at least socially) in a Wonder Woman costume.
And I never got the super powers, the painful glamour (who wants it when it’s painful?!) or the Elvin blood either. But I kept looking, and not just at Halloween. The specifics changed (I stopped looking to be super-powered or have people falling to their knees, for example) but for a long time I looked for a “better” me. A me that wasn’t so shamefully, stubbornly strange, a me that would fit in with the cool kids. (Because the were the ones who were having the best time, weren’t they?!)
Eventually I stopped trying to make those kinds of friends and going into the arts helped too. And yet…I still felt like an undercover freak sometimes.
Then I started to write. And I finally figured out that the undercover freak is the better me. She’s the one with the survival skills, the unique perspective and the sense of humour. She’s the one who tells the stories. And I’m sure if she wanted to, she could conjure some royal blood, read a few minds or even fly. She wouldn’t even need it to be Halloween, either.