Monday, November 05, 2007
Good Lord, I go a long time here between updates. I'm prone to letting this thing sit idle for weeks or months, then dropping a flurry of back-dated posts and disappearing again.
Today I want to talk about Halloween. We did not do anything this Halloween, and for the first time in a long time, that was a big let-down. Actually, this year, it was a crushing disappointment to me. In years past, I sat in a puddle of disappointment as the hours ticked by and we sat at home futzing around on the Internet or watching stupid TV instead of going to fun parties or hosting successful bashes of our own. We never really got invited anywhere, and the one time we did attempt to throw a party, hardly anyone showed up (to be fair, it was pretty short notice) and we were left with 73 Jello shots, 2 cases of beer, a tub of ice, and 14 caramel apples. We were both sick for days afterward, because who in their right mind is going to let caramel apples and Jello shots go to waste? I don't think I was able to look at Jello without shuddering for two years.
These yearly disappointments could always be somewhat lessened by going the next day and stocking up on half-price candy and novelty socks at Target. No, I did not have a fun, exciting Halloween, but I did have 6 bags of fun-size Snickers. And, I reasoned, the bags of candy I stashed in the freezer would keep me happy until Thanksgiving at least, whereas waking up with a hangover and spotty memories of the undoubtedly stupid things I'd done and said the night before was pretty much a one-time gift.
This year, I did not anticipate parties that never materialized, I did not envy my friends' plans to get shit-faced on Day-Glo colored drinks and leave smears of greasy facepaint on the rims of unfamilar toilet seats. This year, what I looked forward to was dressing up our adorable little charge and parading her around so she could see and be seen. She loves to people-watch, and I figured we'd have a grand old time wandering around with her in some sort of costume, letting her watch away. And, hey, if we scored some candy in the deal, so much the better.
We even had her costume picked out - a lobster. Yes, it was one of those silly little baby-bunting costumes, but we saw it last year, when I was just barely pregnant, and thought it was hilarious. Besides, then we could call her "First Lobster" in a British accent. For our part in the costume revelry, we could wear lobster bibs and carry around a tub of butter. Hilarious, right?
Unfortunately, our monetary situation this year did not lend itself to spending $25 on frivolous things like a baby lobster costume. That's okay, I reasoned, she still has her wizard outfit from the Harry Potter book party back in July. It was huge on her then, and it's just a tie-front open-bottom gown, it should still fit. She can wear that. It'll still be cute.
But even that did not come to pass. We spent Halloween at home, doing nothing. Since we're still at my parents' house and don't really know anybody here anyway, it's not like we could have a party. We had nobody to go trick-or-treating with, and I thought it was a little gauche to take Piper by herself. It would be pretty obvious that we were only in it for the candy. I suppose we could've taken her around the neighborhood and rang some doorbells but told people we didn't want the candy. Then again, that's really saying "hey, we don't want candy, but tell us how cute our baby is!" We didn't even have any friends to visit or anything. So we sat at home. Piper got a kick out of seeing the 10 or so (seriously, that's all there were all night, mostly neighborhood kids my mom has baby-sat at one time or another) trick-or-treaters that came to the door. She loves to watch other kids anyway, and she thought the costumes were funny.
I sat on the couch watching pointless television the whole night, my underlying resentment at our situation simmering like a pot of four-alarm chili. If we'd still been in California, I told myself, we could go trick-or-treating with our friends E & M and their two little girls. We could take the baby around to our friends' houses and hang out drinking hard cider until 11 p.m. It would be the Halloween we'd been dreaming about for a year, ever since we saw that lobster costume. Instead, I spent the night hearing my mom say "look at our baby!" to everyone who came to the door and discussing Piper in a voice filled with ownership.
It was really a perfect illustration of why this situation isn't working for me, and how all my biggest fears about doing this have been realized. No jobs, no money, no friends, no chance for escape. We are broke, and it will be a while before we can afford to move out of here. The longer we stay, the more influence my mom has over our daughter. My mother likes to grab at and lay claim to so many things in my life, and my baby has not escaped this behavior. In fact, she is probably more grabby and territorial with Piper than she has been with anything else up to this point. This may only be because she can carry the baby around without remark, but people would've thought it strange if she had locked me in a a closet, put on my wedding dress, and hijacked our wedding. As it was, she came pretty close. Now she seems to think she has a free pass labled "Doting Grandmother." And as long as things stay the way they are, I can't do much to stop that.
There's always next Halloween, and, as a friend of mine pointed out, Piper won't even remember. I suppose those things are true, but they don't do anything to make it feel less like someone stole my baby's first Halloween from us. Next year she'll be too big for silly bunting costumes, next year she'll want to pick her own. Next year she'll be walking and talking and probably ready to trick-or-treat in her own right. She probably won't remember this boring, house-bound Halloween (or care). I will. I will remember that this year, her first time with my favorite holiday, there was nothing to remember.