Last night I took Zoe trick or treating in the neighborhood where I grew up. She was a fire chief and I accompanied her up and down my parents’ street and the next block, boring her with fascinating stories at every house. Next door: one of the daughters in this family used to babysit me and she wouldn’t help me clean up the mess she made. Two doors down were British brothers who wanted to wrestle when I babysat them but I didn’t know how. Next door to them was the guy who drove home from his job every day at lunch to intercept the mail because he was embezzling money and didn’t want his wife to find out. I didn’t mention that story to Zoe. At the next house lived two sisters who I played with often before I changed schools and they stopped speaking to me. I lost a tooth once playing in a tent set up in their basement. They had an aunt who was Miss Mississippi in the Miss America Pageant whose talent was twirling the baton and they tried to teach me as well. At the next house lived the family whose house I went after school the day my mom was at the hospital giving birth to my sister. Next door to them lived several British families in a row, all of whom I babysat for and one of whom I stayed with briefly when I studied abroad in England many years later. Across the street from my parents live a family where the mom is a nurse and I remember her once using instruments of torture, such as tweezers and antiseptic, to help me out when I wiped out on the sidewalk and embedded gravel in my knee. Further down the block were the kids who I used to watch monster movies with in their basement. And all that was before I was eight years old.
Halloween for Zoe was about the parade at her school, trick or treating at the most houses ever (did we go to 200 houses? she joked) and filling her bucket to the brim. She loved seeing all the other kids and decorations and it was the first time she was captivated by vampires and skeletons and witches without being the least bit scared. For me Halloween was about ghosts of years past, but definitely the friendly kind.