October, three years ago:
My heart was shattered into a thousand pieces. It would take over 8 months to put it back together, but the second of those was October 2015. I was desperate for anything I could hold onto as the days got shorter and the nights got longer and darker.
So I turned to Halloween. It had always been there and I’d always kind of ignored it (apart from the annual re-watch of The Blair Witch Project that I started in my teens), but the internet loves it, and I love anything spooky, so I decided to embrace the mood this time. I browsed Netflix and dived into American Horror Story. I read The Exorcist and Richard Matheson’s Hell House and Shirley Jackson. I found the moodiest, darkest playlists on 8tracks and listened to them all day at work.
It was awesome. For one entire month, I could take those ghosts and witches and endless renditions of This Is Halloween and stuff them into the hole in my heart, which ached a little less when I worried about what might be hiding in the depths of Briarcliff Manor.
Since then, every year, just like the way I still get excited about Christmas because it was really great at some time, I can’t wait for October, when I do it all over again.
It occurred to me last night that most of the cold months (in the Northern hemisphere) seem to be dedicated to something: October is for Halloween, November is for novel writing, December is for Christmas, January is for new beginnings. (In February, we’re tired.) I don’t know about anyone else, but for me, this series of ‘themes’ gives me something to nestle into and focus on when my bedroom gets so cold I sometimes can’t sleep properly.
October, though, feels special in a way. October feels like giving in to something. I’ve always enjoyed dark tales, and loved reading and writing them. (My first NaNoWriMo novel was a heavily Shirley Jackson-inspired haunted house story that I’d love to revisit some day.) They allow us to acknowledge the dark sides of humanity, to explore the supernatural many of us have decided not to believe in. They are a glimpse into an abyss that is normally forbidden, where emotions triumph over reason, and control is abandoned or lost. For a little bit, we can believe in the power of witches and the existence of something beyond what we know, all from the safe comfort of our bedrooms, with a cup of tea in hand and a scented candle burning. Where we can imagine the thrill of the threat without it being real.
Now if you will excuse me, I’m about to find a cozy coffeeshop to start reading my third creepy book of the month in.