A long time ago I stopped trick-or-treating. I remember taking my brother when I was about 16, but I stopped dressing up and getting treats at age 12. My daughter is 12 this year, and her desire to roam door to door hasn’t waned, in part because I’ve been an enthusiastic participant celebrating vicariously through her! And also because she has friends who want to go. However, this year I’ve been ambivalent toward Halloween. Didn’t really want to decorate; my daughter helped. Didn’t want to carve a pumpkin. However, Claire said she would be sad if there wasn’t a jack-o-lantern this year. She asked me to carve an Owo face. Being an uncool parent I had no idea what this meant, so she drew it for me. As it turned out, once I got started with the cutting and scooping, I felt calm enjoyment in the project. So here is the Owo pumpkin with its hat and without. Happy Halloween!
I took a walk yesterday with Claire. As we walked, I talked to her, describing and naming the visible things and the sounds. A woman walking her tiny dog approached from the opposite direction. As she neared us, she said, “You have the most loving, beautiful expression on your face.” How sweet! I stopped and chatted for a moment, introducing her to Claire. She oohed and aahed over Pixie, telling me how beautiful she is. After a couple of minutes of this, we wished each other a happy day and went on our way. That encounter added a sparkle to my day.
Last night there were about 11 women gathered for the potluck. This was a group of mellow, warm women. I felt immediately at home. It was also really nice to talk with contemporaries who share similar growing-up reference points, and who could relate to the challenge of the mental shift required of older, independent women who become mothers for the first time.
The interesting thing (to me) is how much cheering I received for getting myself out of the house to attend. It felt heartening. I’d even showered before I went, so I was, like, all put together (or at least not stinky and covered in spilled milk). I received the requisite encouragement that the schedule starts to settle more around 3-4 months, and so on. We also got to share and compare birth war stories.
Oh! Another neat tidbit: one of the women at the potluck is someone I met in 2004, just after I moved here. She and I trained to be volunteer grief counselors in October/November at The Centre for Living With Dying. However, I didn’t continue after the training, as my father-in-law’s cancer had returned, and he was dying. I had my own living with dying to deal with and nothing to spare for another grieving person. Anyhow, I felt such pleasure running into her. I know I’m home when I finally begin running into acquaintances in ordinary places like the grocery store, other gatherings, and so on. In Austin it began to happen about three or four years after I arrived; until then, it was surreal sometimes to do ordinary life tasks but feel like a stranger moving through a foreign world.
I’m really glad I went. I got home around 10:00, and I’m so gonna need a nap. Regardless of how tired I am, I always become conscious at about 3:30 a.m. and try to relax back to sleep. Usually it’s a light doze, if that, until 5 a.m. when I decide it’s pointless and make coffee. I never used to wake up at 3 a.m. — instead, I was often awake at that time because I couldn’t fall asleep in the first place. Back then I could sleep until I was refreshed and woke naturally. Not anymore! What’s the saying? I’ll sleep when I’m dead — or when I can catch a nap.
Also, new photos of Pixie for friends and family are up at Flickr.