I used to love October. My birthday comes in October. I’ve written about birthdays before, but this year felt different. I went from 57 to 58. Just a day? Just a year? No. I have been trying to discern why I’ve been feeling funkier about this birthday, about this October, more than the others.
I just went from my mid-50s to my late 50s. My stepbrother, who is a whole three months older than I am, uses this transition to talk about his being “almost 60,” which really drives me crazy. I don’t want to be “almost 60” and I’m not thrilled about being in my late 50s.
One of my friends cautioned me that I would soon have to change the name of this blog. My paternal grandmother was almost 102 when she died, so I could legitimately say, with my genes, that 50 was middle-aged. However, there’s a big different between being 102 and 120, so my friend may be right.
But the annual racheting up of my age odometer is not the only thing that has shifted my attitude toward October. The leaves change, the air cools. It’s one of the few times you really get a change of the seasons in California. I used to love Halloween, with ghosts and goblins running through the streets. But as I’ve gotten older, my attitude toward the holiday has changed. It’s not just that fewer kids are roaming the streets; it’s also that it’s getting harder to resist that candy in the bowl in the days leading up to the 31st.
I think it’s evil. It calls my name in the middle of the night. It rots my teeth. It sabotages my attempts to reduce my waistline. It is the embodiment of an evil spirit unleashed from a graveyard, not the token of charm bestowed on an innocent child. I need to buy Halloween candy that I don’t like, so I won’t eat it, except that I don’t think there is such a thing.
Another problem with October as I get older are the memories that come with the accumulating years. Some memories, like that of my 7th birthday party – even though it held at the height of the Cuban missile crisis – are pleasant. Other memories, such as that earthshaking moment at the 1989 World Series, are not.
Memories tend to dig in and stay rooted. But other October elements are transitory, and that aggravates me as well. It used to be so easy to remember when Daylight Savings Time changed – it was always the weekend closest to my birthday (conversely, the shift in spring was always the weekend closest to my half-birthday). A more convenient touchstone never was. But then Congress started monkeying around with the dates, and I’ll be darned if I know when to change my clocks until I see it in the newspaper. Heaven help me if I stop subscribing to a newspaper.
So there you have it. That’s why I’m no longer in love with October. It’s no longer a symbol of the happy experiences of birthday parties and running along the street in search of sweets. It’s the harbinger of change, too much change, and the wrong kind of change. I am not only in the autumn of the year, but in the autumn of my lifetime. Darkness is coming sooner, in more ways than one (but I’ll be darned if I know when). Even sneaking candy doesn’t make me feel better about it.