You know the drill. As the sun slowly falls behind the horizon, the kids are peeking out windows and asking weary Moms and Dads, “Is it time yet?” A whole night of dress up and walking and friends and candy stands long before them.
I still remember a great many Halloweens from years past. A pizza costume fashioned from two poster board pieces hung over my shoulders by string. The year of the hot pink Crayola marker (not sure what I was thinking) and the year a friend and I went as a pair of dice. We painted our boxes and then walked the streets for hours with our arms extended as we carried pillow cases filled with loot. My biceps got one solid work out that year.
As the sun sets on Halloween this year, we’ll set a glowing pumpkin out on the front porch. We’ll eat an early dinner, put the kids into costumes and head out into the darkness. They’ll carry cheap plastic pails and walk from house to house. They’ll ring doorbells and holler, “Trick or Treat!” They’ll hold out their pails and kind neighbors will pass some sugar laden treats into their quickly filling bags. The boys will be wide eyed and fresh with the excitement of the night. At least for a while. Eventually they will both be crying. The forecast is showing a 99% chance of tears on Halloween. From sheer exhaustion, sugar overload, or maybe half eaten suckers dropped on the road and covered with tiny rocks upon retrieval. After the tears start, we’ll rush home and tuck sugar junkies into warm beds. This is my plan.
I’ve always been able to borrow or round up free costumes in the past, but this year, Jackson got to pick his costume. And since 4 year olds know exactly everything, he was elated to be in charge of this important decision. He’ll roam the streets this year as a T-Rex and Parker will go as Elmo. There is joy to be found in the art of play, in pretending. In dressing up and trying out something new. After Jackson’s T-Rex costume arrived from Amazon, he suited up immediately. We put on his dinosaur claws and head piece and our house turned into a Jurassic forest as he stomped and paraded and roared through his territory. He was delighted in his transformation. I, on the other hand, needed a drink.
So tonight, I’ll raise a glass to Halloween. To celebrating the act of dressing up. Costumes. Play. Transformation. Because here’s the beauty in it all: Don’t we all sometimes wish we could be something we are not? Here’s our chance to play, to remake ourselves, if only for an evening.
I still remember one of the first times I remade myself with intention. Soon after I graduated college, I was looking for a part time job to get me through the summer months until I would begin teaching in the fall. I walked into Bath and Body Works one day to get an application. I talked to the manager to find out if they were hiring and lo and behold, they were. She brought me out on the floor and picked up a bottle of lotion. She said, “I’m going to give you a minute to read over the label on this. Then I want you to give me your best sales pitch.”
My heart fluttered. My gaze was one of bewilderment. I thought about walking out of the store right then and there. I had absolutely zero experience in selling anything to anyone. I taught 3rd graders how to multiply and read and be kind to each other and their teacher. I was out of my comfort zone. But then an idea surfaced. The manager knew none of this. Maybe I could sell ice to Eskimos and I didn’t even know it yet. So then and there, I suited up as a salesperson and challenged myself to stretch and grow into someone I’d never been before.
I walked up to her while she was looking at the display and said, “Can I help you find something today?” Super chipper.
“I’m looking for a gift for a friend. Do you have anything you recommend?”
I looked her in the eyes. I searched my heart for confidence. I said, “Well, one of my favorite products is the from the True Blue Spa line. It’s right over here. It has Shea butter in it to soothe and hydrate the skin, but it doesn’t leave your hands feeling greasy at all. Just refreshed. It’s one of our top sellers. If you’d like to try it out, I have a tester right here.”
I smiled a lovely smile and held my breath. This was me living on a prayer. And on lotion sales.
I got hired. I became a Bath and Body Works employee. It was a powerful moment in my life because I learned that I could be remade with a little bit of luck and effort and confidence. That my path could shift and change depending on my actions. I could change my world. I felt strong. I felt capable.
That season of my life came and left quickly. But I will never forget the feeling that it brought with it. We remake ourselves over and over and over again in our lifetime. We try on a new costume, see if it suits us. If it does, we celebrate. We embrace that time. And then when the season is over, we remake ourselves again. We celebrate change. We grow and shift time and again. Sometimes, we remake ourselves only to discover that it’s not a good fit. That’s ok too. Because we tried it out, bravely. And now, there is important work ahead for us as we figure out the next right path. I think this is how we work at becoming ourselves.
Since we moved our family closer to my husband’s work last April, I’ve felt like we are in a constant state of remaking. The move gave us time to pause and think with intention about our values and the life we hope to live. We’ve shifted in some big ways and in some little ways. We’ve suited up as farmers, as we brought baby chicks into the back yard. We suited up in lederhosen and dirndls, as we visited my dear cousin and her family in Germany. We’ve suited up as international hosts, as we welcomed an amazing Chinese teacher into our home for this school year. We don’t have to stay in any of these costumes forever, but each suit has brought new joys. Ones we would have missed out on if we clung relentlessly to our old selves.
As we walk our neighborhood this Halloween, holding hands with a little T-Rex and Elmo, we will be celebrating play. Celebrating transformation. Celebrating the art of remaking ourselves. I imagine as we wander, I’ll be thinking of past journeys that have remade me, in heart and mind. Journeys that have brought me right where I am today. I’m thankful for all of those stories. I may even think ahead, ever curious of the remaking that awaits.
But then, I hope I pause and savor the tiny hands that fit snugly into my own, the crocodile tears as they flow down red cheeks, the sound of tired feet dragging on pavement, because in those small present moments, the magic is happening.
And that magic is remaking me.