With Halloween just behind us and the winter holidays fast approaching, I find myself thinking back to when I was a little girl, to the days of pigtails and sleepovers.
I’m not sure what triggered this attack of nostalgia, but it made me realize that I want to spend some time remembering, and even reliving my childhood.
Life as a kid is just more carefree. Kids eat candy and have jewelry-making birthday parties. They like to splash in puddles, whether they are wearing galoshes or not (whether they can even say galoshes or not!). I know I am not the only one who sometimes longs for those simpler pleasures.
The other day at work, a co-worker and I decided to make it Disney Friday. A quick trip to youtube.com provided the soundtrack for that day. We played all the greats (yes, I love my job). We were like giddy little kids as we sat there listening to Disney classics. It didn’t mean we weren’t working, Little Mermaid and Hercules didn’t distract us from using the mailing database. The music made us smile, reminding us of the days when we used to sit on the couch watching Beauty and the Beast for hours.
OK. Stop. Before I continue, I have a confession: I’ve been working on this column for an embarrassingly long time. I’ve only managed to type eight sentences in two hours because I keep getting distracted by the rain. I just keep staring out the window; I guess I am reconnecting with the childlike wonder of watching drops of water fall onto the leaves outside.
As I stare out into the distance, I’m only brought back to reality when my mind rewinds to Friday night, Halloween and the downpour that ensued.
When I was little, Halloween was about dressing up in a costume, becoming a witch or a princess for an evening, and walking around with my family and neighbors enjoying decorations and eating way-too-many sweets. It was one of the pure joys of childhood. There was no bigger picture, no reality, no complication. Halloween was simple and delicious.
Now that we’ve outgrown trick-or-treating, Halloween has become an occasion to dress up in as little clothing as possible without risking an indecency arrest. Overindulging is no longer about candy corn and chocolate, but alcohol. The question of the night used to be “How many snickers did you get?” Now it’s “How many shots have you had?” Not that there’s anything wrong with that; please don’t misunderstand, that can be GREAT fun.
I just miss the days of carefree puddle splashing, of singing in the rain and having counting and sorting the candy be the biggest responsibility I had on a given night.
I guess what I’m really missing is something more pure than fun, something much harder to find. Childlike joy.
So this Halloween, I took a trip back. The night started with lots of friends huddled together under my tiny umbrella, trying with all our might not to get wet. But by the time we all walked back to my car I realized I used to love dancing in the rain. I remembered, if I get wet, I’ll dry off, but if I let the moment pass, I shut off another road back to the easy grace of childhood. So I splashed in puddles. Yes I am still wearing my obnoxious walking boot, yes the drive home was a little soggy, but I splashed in a puddle! It was glorious. I can still sing and dance in the rain, or sit in my room mesmerized as the rain accompanies “Impossible” from the Whitney Houston and Brandy Cinderella, and still have time to study for my midterms. I can walk with friends in the rain and not lose one ounce of the maturity I fought so hard for. Carefree and adult don’t have to be mutually exclusive, and I think it’s the careful balance of the two that makes someone truly mature.
Enjoying fantasies like glass slippers leading to true love can co-exist with modern fairytales like match.com. You can fit splashing in puddles with galoshes in between classes and an internship. I can still be a graduating senior and enjoy wasting an afternoon away with a cup of hot chocolate, a movie and a stuffed teddy bear.
EMILY KAPLAN really wants to watch Whitney Houston turn a pumpkin into a carriage. Anyone who wants to make popcorn and watch with her should e-mail her at firstname.lastname@example.org.