Tuesday, May 21, 2024
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We May Grow Old, but Halloween Never Gets Old

The crunching sound underfoot as I step on a dried orange leaf signals the beginning. Slowly, each house in the neighborhood transforms into a spooky spectacle, houses wrapped with plastic webs and skeletons hanging lifelessly from the rooftops. A crisp autumn breeze sways the flame within the protective orange shell of a pumpkin, its grin twisted with mischief. Once bright green, the leaves turn a comforting shade of orange as they gently fall to the ground, forming inviting piles for kids to leap into. For a few weeks, everything is overtaken by the eerie embrace of Halloween.

The first costume I can remember from first grade. My Ben 10 costume stretches around me, shrunken by my mother in the wash. Running breathlessly up and down Procter Ave, my bag of candy swinging wildly behind me, (that my mother of course would take and donate). But it was never about the candy. What made that Halloween special was the exhilaration of being out with friends long past my usual bedtime. It was the strong scent of hairspray and plastic costumes that hung in the air, filling every street corner with a sense of enchantment. It was the sight of my parents cutting out ghost shapes and placing them in every window of our home. 

Now, as a high school student, I find myself taking that special night for granted. Instead of strolling through the familiar streets we once roamed, giggling with friends as we debated who had the largest Snickers bar, we now shuffle around in crowded parties, bumping awkwardly into one another.  Last year, even as a junior, I decided to go trick or treat.  I walked from door to door, greeted by surprised familiar faces. I ended the night sitting on a bench overlooking all of San Francisco. It was not the same as all those years before.  It was different. The childish thrill was replaced by a feeling of maturity. Perhaps that is the price of growing up. 

Now as the first jack o’lanterns make their way out to the front step of houses, I hang the same familiar cutouts on all the windows. We may have outgrown some traditions but every year we are still enchanted by the spooky enchantment of Halloween.