Ever since I can remember, I’ve loved Halloween season. When September rolled in with a new school year and many beginnings. I eagerly knew the chilly days, pumpkins, ghosts, and ghouls were on the horizon. Halloween held unspeakable magic for me. Even in my younger days, I donned each whimsical, handmade costume my mother sewed for me with exceptional pride. Whether I was a dragon, witch, Native American, sorceress, batgirl, geisha, Queen Amidala, or Medusa 1.0. I orchestrated a pageant of one-of-a-kind characters each year for school parties and trick-or-treated. Halloween always held a certain magic for me, as it was the only night of the year I could be something else. I could refuse to fit it. I could be unique.
Despite my sheltered childhood, I never escaped from feeling the darkness of life. I remember so many of my nightmares, many of which I can still remember, and they would probably make a great episode of “Black Mirror.” I honestly do not know why I had such nightmares; I certainly lived a sheltered life and relatively healthy, happy childhood. I remember the raging macabre, philosophical thoughts raging within my mind. There was that moment I spent crying after swimming in our backyard pool because I had so much fun, why would a child cry for this reason? I realized the moment passed, and I couldn’t hold on to my happiness. I realized that nothing lasts forever; life will always be filled with tides of sadness abruptly dragging the grains of joy into the depths of the ocean. That was the way of things; just the way life would always be.
However, as far as the Halloween season, I am grateful my parents embraced this time of the year. Each year we turned our house into the scariest one in the neighborhood. With my girl scout troupe, we traveled to the Cheeseman Haunted Hayride in Portersville. From the moment we boarded the hayride, I felt the enchantment of each creepy setting. We’d travel through graveyards lit by flickering candles. At one point, we ventured through a demonic seance, experienced an alien abduction as a UFO dropped from the trees and shook our wagon. Then we cringed as we listened to the chainsaw actor chase us. Unfortunately, in my eyes, the haunted hayride tremendously took a turn for the worst when the hayride changed and became a low-grade run-of-the-mill attraction. But we still had terrific times; we turned my uncle’s barn into a haunted party space filled with games, music, and ghost stories around a fire. These parties were legendary and unforgettably special.
I read every Goosebumps book, Fright Street, Neil Gaiman short story. My mother would always buy me books filled with every “real” story too. One Halloween season, my parents thought it would be awesome to take me to hear haunted stories inside The Old Stone House, a creepy, historical house with fascinating history and lore. College students stood in each room, telling different stories amidst the candlelight. I took a particular interest to one account I later called, “The Escape.” The narrator had the story memorized and recited it with an increasing crescendo, tone, and tempo. I couldn’t get her, or the tale, out of my mind.
This moment sparked my love for storytelling. I practiced that story, learned it, but my unique spin on it. I told it everywhere I went for many years until it fell upon the ears of nearly everyone I had known. It was a vastly known favorite among my family and friends. One year Mercyhurst, my college, hired me to read palms and tell stories at the college Halloween party. I once again felt the unique glow of Halloween magic I had left behind when the Halloween parties back home had ended.
Next year will mark ten years since I graduated from college with my bachelor’s degree. Don’t get me wrong, I have lived these years doing amazing things, but every Halloween season since my graduation has been empty. Sure, I’ve made amazing costumes. I wore to greet trick-or-treaters at the door or wore to Chipolte to get my 1/2 off boo-rito. I’ve been to parties, but they were missing decorations, scary stories, and the fall ambiance I had grown to love. When I became an adult, Halloween lost the mystical feeling that always refreshed my spirit each year.
This year I decided to take control of my life during some difficult, somber times. I cleared my schedule and began a quest to reinvigorate my soul with Halloween magic. I had always wanted to become that unforgettable storyteller I had seen all those years ago back at the Old Stone House. I saw myself channel the actor which climbed aboard the hayride, and through heavy breathing, whispered the words, “I’m going to get you,” only loud enough for me to hear.
So that led me to become a lead actress in my area at Laurel House of Horror. It’s going to be exhausting, but I know that I’m going to love every minute of becoming this character. A character that holds shards from every nightmare, every heartbreak, every forsaken moment was bringing fantasy to reality through each scare, shriek, and diabolic fortune. This is the life I love!