Halloween is today, which means the big parade hits the neighborhood tonight and we’d better make sure we get off the subway on the east side of Sixth Avenue or we’ll be stuck behind the barricade and forced to walk, costumeless, fifteen blocks to make it across to the other side. (We know this from experience.)
The Halloween I knew, living outside the city, did not include parades. It was all about trick-or-treating in the dark, wooded towns where I lived. You’d go with a few friends, a pillowcase for all the candy, and glow-sticks hung around your neck so you could be found if your mom drove around looking for you. I remember dressing up as a pirate with a stuffed parrot on my shoulder, as a gypsy, as an alien from Venus… what else?
One thing I have no memory of dressing up as is a witch. Which is strange, because I love witches. I wanted to be one. I decided this around age thirteen—I would be a ballerina, a witch, a novelist, and a single mother when I grew up. I took ballet classes, I read books, the boy I liked didn’t like me, and so what was left? Witch research. But big problem: becoming a witch involved having to be friends with other witches so you could form a coven. Um… Where was I to find a group of other girls who also all wanted to be witches in the middle of nowhere Upstate where barely anyone even wanted to come over to play the Ouija board with me? Also, being a witch involved a lot of recipes, and doing things by rules, and memorizing stuff, and… let’s just say I talked myself out of it and did not succeed in becoming a witch then, and I am not a witch now.
My witch fascination is probably due to my most favorite series of children’s books EVER. Who else devoured the picture books about Dorrie the Little Witch by Patricia Coombs? They’re out-of-print now, except maybe for one, and I do wish they would be republished. I can’t even express how much I loved these books. Dorrie was a little witch who lived with her mom, Big Witch. I don’t remember a dad—which seemed ideal to me. She had a black cat named Gink. Dorrie was clumsy and had the messiest room and she always wore two different colored socks, just like I did then and still do. In each book she got into trouble, but her mom always forgave her at the end. Dorrie was a witch I could relate to. She was my most favorite witch ever. So who’s yours?
Just a side note: My family is not allowed to make fun of me anymore for reading the “Blood Witch” book on the train! Seriously! Not funny.
Now I am all grown up. I am not a single mother—falling in love foiled my plans to be single, and my biological clock must’ve dropped out somewhere back around West 3rd Street because it sure isn’t ticking. I am not a ballerina—I got as far as going en pointe and then quit so I’d have more time to go out partying when I was seventeen. I am almost a novelist, or I’m trying to be. So I guess one of my dreams is on the way to coming true.
Happy Halloween. I’ll be dressing up as someone who is not dressing up today. What will you be?