There's any number of things I love about October. It's the month where people finally get around to setting fire to all the stuff it was still light enough to chop down after work in September, so the air is often thick with woodsmoke. October afternoons are blissful, gorgeous in a way that's far more comforting than the sometime perfection of winter. October afternoons look better if you kick leaves over them or scatter them with off-key singing. Sunlight, in October, becomes something even Turner couldn't have captured, extraordinarily soft but bright enough to turn trees to gold. I like October. It's a reassuring and beautiful month.
When I was three, my family flew to Chicago around October. The Lyric Opera runs a season then, and my mum was singing, so we got to go with her. I don't remember too much about it; they met us from the airport in a limousine, that's about all. That, and the shop windows and the costumes and Peter Hall's ghastly daughter giving me the fright of my life with a scary mask. I don't really expect myself to remember much, since I was, indeed, only three. But I loved the city already, and so when we went back when I was seven, I was thrilled. Seven. Eleven. Fourteen. Chicago. October. Hallowe'en.
We hit Hallowe'en every time, you see. And America, well, America really does Hallowe'en. September's mad rush for Christmas stardom suddenly halts in the shops on October 1 and Hallowe'en bubbles up in every window, windows full of masks and costumes and sweets and chocolates and films and decorations and puppets and glitter and broomsticks and pumpkins and things, even in shops that sell, y'know, vacuum cleaners or soap. Even in the middle of the city there seemed to be fallen leaves everywhere - could just be my memory blurring things - and they fell around children as excited as children here on the day before Christmas Eve. Of course they were looking forward to trick-or-treating because children do, though I never wanted to join in. But they were also looking forward to staying up late, watching scary things on the television, going to parties, dressing up, having their parents join in. It isn't Christmas, Christmas comes with guilt and money worries and sickly sweet family films. Hallowe'en is freedom.
I saw the most frightening things I've ever seen whilst watching Hallowe'en television in Chicago. And you do know how many channels American TV has, right? With the exception of the God channels and, presumably, CNN and that, I recall pretty much every single channel going on Hallowe'en break for a week and a bit before the actual day. Randomly terrifying documentaries about old people who look after a museum of cursed toys in the Midwest. One of the best films I've ever seen and never managed to track down, involving a boy and a corridor of people with pumpkin heads and a quest to save, oh, I don't know. Something. I was young.
I don't know why I'm writing all this down. I guess it's because every year since the last time I spent a Hallowe'en there, I've been missing it so much it physically hurts, around this time of year.
It's a very poncy goth thing to get all 'on this night the spirits rise and so on' about Hallowe'en and it's not even that, really, for me. If I really want to sit in candlelit vigil to ward off evil whatsits I not only can but should do that on my own. That's not the bit I miss, I can do that any year I lose it enough to decide I want to.
I miss the dressing up. I miss the handing out of sweets so absurdly nice I once got my mother to bring back a bucket of them when she was in America and I wasn't. British Hallowe'en food is designed for how unpleasant they can make it seem to children; there's no class. Hallowe'en is a bit of a festival of tat over here. Tat has its place, obviously, but I miss it being about more than scary plastic.
I miss sharing it with people. I won't be sharing it with people this year, either. It's on a Monday; I'll be on my own, although at least I'll be on my own surrounded with Stuff, thanks to asrana who decided to do her best to make Hallowe'en special for me this year, because she's wonderful. But it's honestly the most important day in the year for me - I don't mention that very often - and sometimes it amazes me that with all the goths and other strange people I've met over the last nearly-four years, I've still never found anyone who feels the same way about it. Ah, well. Maybe it's just as well. :)