Halloween stirs up all kinds of things, a smoky mix of anticipation and fear, life and death, blood and chocolate. Since my daughter was very young, we have spooked it up with pumpkin carving and mummy dogs, gelatin brains and black candy apples. We dress up, the scarier the better.
Speaking of scary, it’s the first Halloween here since the Big Work Shift. Plenty of time to try on masks and ask “Who are you supposed to be?”
It’s a question you find yourself asking at life transitions. Child to adult, Single to coupled, student to worker bee. Life transitions = evolution. Sort of.
For example, if you find yourself suddenly without a regular work schedule, the rhythm of living is somehow…off. Like shifting gears on an old bicycle, your cadence catches and slips. You don’t HAVE to get up at the same time every day, even if your inner Baptist screams “get up!”. You can lie in bed for hours once you get the kids off to school, or let the dog out. You can stay in your PJs, call the recruiter while you load the dishwasher, or take a conference call in the bath. You can put on yoga pants and a t-shirt on Monday morning and discover, through the clever use of accessories (Scarves! Boots! The Joe Fresh Sweater Cape!) you can wear the same outfit for a week.
Yes, my friends, the sartorial descent can be shocking. So when an invitation arrives to attend the Lifetime Achievement award for your amazing partner, ones’ newly waxed upper lip will begin to sweat. You’ll find yourself in need of a carefully curated costume, something that says “Success”, or at least “I am trying.”
Closet archaeologist seeks business attire. It’s going to be a long dig.
I cannot let go of things: people and memories and clothing. I come by it honestly (Cancerian homebody from a long line of string savers and foil folders). The motto in my family? Never pay retail!
Most women I know carefully acquire clothes that express who we really are. Or at least, who we thought we were.
What do you change into when life has changed?
No to the now too tight blue two-piece pantsuit (power suit of a decade ago), the little red dress (Spanx city). No to the vintage 50s chiffon confection, once worn with cowboy boots and described as “something an astronaut’s wife would wear”.
Outfits that shouted, “successful, creative, interesting!” hang like plastic bagged mummies. Clever disguises literally under wraps.
Down, down the rabbit hole, a raw emerald silk strapless bought backpacking in Thailand 30 years ago, my go to 80s big hair Fancy-Dan dress. Feather capes, opera coat, My Dad’s wedding suit jacket, belong in a Tickle Trunk. Some things (the leather mini skirt, the heavy biker belt, the sky high silver platform sandals), I put aside for my fashion forward and suddenly curious daughter.
“You lived in Ottawa?” she asks. (The oversized 70s vintage suede fringed coat). “You went to school in Paris?”, (the black schoolgirl/punk dress).
Yes, yes a thousand times yes. Skirts and suits and shoulder pads…all evidence of the real lives I no longer lead.
There is also a giant bin in the garage, filled to beyond full with actual costumes. And by that I mean outfits intended to obscure the identity of the wearer. On purpose.
Medieval masks and feather angel wings, several black witches hats (in case the coven drops by), Supergirl and Cat Woman, my daughter’s little Red Riding Hood, her home made puzzle piece,, Hannah Montana wig (one of a dozen wigs really), accessories and a size 6X cheeseburger. Even my husband, bespoke tailoring belying the spirit within, keeps a costume or two; Dracula (classic) Dracula (Steampunk).
Halloween means never having to say you’re boring.
The shelves in my closet and imagination are full of possibility. It’s going to take a little bit of courage (and maybe some red wine) but I know there’s the bedrock of something, someone. Old ideas worn in new ways. With boots, of course.
Late October, Samhain, the ancient New Year, is full of contradiction light and dark, death and rebirth, thrust and drag. Old you and new you. Erratic evolution.
You can wear whatever you want, be whomever you want to be: Witch or angel, superhero or demon. Red dress or yoga pants.
What are you going to be this year? The possibilities are endless.
Entertaining Hungry Ghosts:
This is THE time of the year to try a little magic, so set a place at the table for the people who have departed your life. Light a candle, invite them in. (then blow out the candle!) go to sleep and see what surprises await you in the morning.
And then please drop me a note and let me know if you experienced any signs and omens.