Saturday, October 17, 2015
This is one of my favorite Halloween images. It captures perfectly that mixture of innocence and eeriness, that sense of autumnal joy, the feeling that something is ending, something is closing, something passes -- and yet, there's something going on behind the scenes of which we are not aware.
It captures that sense of imagination that is so important, and yet also captures the way in which we too often impose our own perceptions and meanings on the world to see things that aren't there.
When I was a sophomore in high school, I took driver's ed in the fall. Most people took it during the summer, as soon as they could, but I put it off because I didn't like the competitive atmosphere of the summer class. On days when I did not drive, class would end at 4:30 PM. Afterward, I'd walk home. My home town had no bus system, and I had no older friends or older siblings to give me a ride. My parents wouldn't come get me, or pick me up on the way home from work. So I walked. I walked along 6th Avenue South from 20th Street to 44th Street (Carol Drive, where I lived). It was a lonely walk home. The sun began to set about two-thirds of the way home, so I came home in the dark. Most days, the setting sun would hit my back, and keep me warm. I'd smell wood smoke in the air, and see people's Halloween decorations out on the front steps: Bundles of cornstalks, carved and uncarved pumkins, stacks of gourds, scarecrows, large black cats hissing at nothing, sheet-ghosts swinging from tree branches.
It was a melancholy time. It was a sensual time. I had only myself for company, and I had nothing to think about. I spent most of my walk just walking. Not worrying or fearing or anticipating or pondering.
I just walked.
Sometimes, I'd reach the end of our driveway on Carol Drive, and think, "Do I really have to go in? Can't I just be here, in this moment, for forever?"