This is (College) Halloween

This weekend, my brother and his girlfriend visited. Before going out, we had a wholesome Halloween/fall-themed evening with my roommates. We carved a pumpkin, and used its insides to bake cookies and toast seeds. While I loved separating the seeds, mixing the ingredients, and eating all the tasty results of our hard work, the main source of my sense of ecstatic joy was the presence of my brother, and the reminder of our memories of Halloweens past.  

In college, Halloween has become just another excuse to party—a social occasion not unlike other weekends (besides the costumes, of course). But when we were little, Halloween was a family time of pumpkin-carving, ghost story-telling, and trick-or-treating. I hadn’t carved a pumpkin in years, and even the smell of the seeds brought back a waft of nostalgia to toasting seeds as a family, sprinkling them with salt. While we prepared these fall-themed treats, we watched The Nightmare Before Christmas, a family-favorite doubling as a Halloween and Christmas movie. My brother and I sang along to the songs, and I was surprised by how many lyrics I remembered. We later listened to a G-Eazy song based on the title character—“Jack Skellington”—unearthing deep memories from high school Halloweens. 

In creating this representation, I wanted to evoke the feelings I had in the moment, rather than just depicting the moment itself. I chose a digital collage, including pictures of our food, our pumpkins, and our weekend, while also adding an image of Jack Skellington, and Halloween-themed stickers. The most important part of the collage, though, is the photo of my brother and I from a childhood Halloween—him in a Buzz Lightyear costume and me in a Dorothy one. I included this to demonstrate the nostalgia and the intense happiness I felt as I was reminded of memories throughout the evening. I also linked the main song from The Nightmare Before Christmas, meant to function as mood-music while reading this post. I wish I took videos to better represent the night, but I hope the song and the image together will transport the reader to my perspective on this fall Friday at BC. 

In her “Writing the Absent Potential” chapter, Sandra L. Richards discusses the necessity of the reader to imagine what is present in the absence in Color Struck, as the play was never performed. “The unwritten, or an absence from the script,” she writes, “is a potential presence implicit in performance” (Richards 38). Looking at this collage while listening to the song, an outside observer may feel the moods of Halloween and fall. However, the sense of family is a little more difficult to represent—this is where the audience must infer a presence from the absence. Somewhere in between the pictures of pumpkin seeds and too-liquidy cookies, of two little kids dressed in Halloween costumes and two college kids drinking sangria, the viewer will find the true meaning of the moment—the familial memories of Halloweens at home.

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