Every year, I promise myself I’ll enjoy October. I’ll hold onto that magical month, cherish it, let it caress me, make love to it until its conspiracy succeeds in leading me into the spooky, sentimental, spectacular orgasm of the senses and the mind that October is meant to provide.
All my life, it’s been my favorite month. October: when the school year’s been in session just long enough for a boy to begin letting go of the pain brought on by having to relinquish the glorious freedom of summertime, when the chill of autumn truly begins to creep in and surround us after the few teasing frosts that might occur in September some years, when the shifting of the shades of leaves promises the coming of November’s feasts and December’s gifts, and when Halloween crawls into view in its slow, steady stride with pumpkins becoming prominent on the neighbors’ porches and wax fangs showing up in the grocery store displays.
This month has always been magical to me, and as I drown more deeply in adulthood with each passing year, I often vow, right around the middle of September, that this will be the year I embrace October, when I find a moment now and then to stop and breathe in the cool air, when I take a day or two to sit in front of the TV with the right discs in the player and voluntarily deny the jadedness of older eyes so Lugosi and Karloff can crawl under my skin again and frighten me as they did when I was a child and those old black and white images seemed so, so real, like shadows out of humanity’s collective archetypal nightmares.
But my twenties happened and I worked and pursued women and tried to figure out what path to take in life. And I hit thirty and tried to be respectable and fell into predictable patterns of work, save, work, save, buy, then work and save some more, and a job became a career and went on like clockwork day after day and season after identical season and now forty isn’t too far beyond the horizon, and now and then I spot a gray strand in my stubble when I’m too lazy to shave for a few days.
Each year, I vow to hold October close, but she always manages to slip away. The precious month speeds by and soon it snows and I know I’ll have to try to keep my promise the next year.
I almost missed again this year, but I’ve reached out in this final week of the best of all months and I think I’ve got it now!
The chill is in the air. It’s too nippy to venture outside without at least a sweatshirt. The leaves crunch underfoot. The coffee tastes sweeter because I need the warmth and not just the caffeine. The night air seems filled with just enough danger to bring back the feeling I had as a kid when I thought that maybe, just maybe, the ghouls and vampires and other delights from beyond the veil that separates worlds were real and bumps in the night are more than just wind-blown fence gates. Maybe that feeling has something to do with the pack of coyotes that ate one of my neighbor’s dogs a week ago, or maybe I really have, for now at least, rediscovered the October that I’ve been trying to catch again for close to twenty years.
I made time to watch an old horror movie the other day. The great Peter Cushing was hard at work making monsters again, stitching the pieces together, transferring brains from one body to another, and the insanity of it all was a joy to behold. I still have time to fit a few more in before Halloween. The Exorcist, maybe, or a little marathon of the Universal classics? I’ll decide when the time is right.
I have a horror novel coming out very soon too, so maybe that’s pushed me a little closer to the proper mood for the season. But it’s more than just that. It’s a combination of things, a perfect recipe for the right blend of sentiment and optimism and creepy delight!
Whatever the reasons, I can smile now when I drive past the plastic Draculas and inflated pumpkins and fake gravestones that stand on yards all across the suburbs. I can feel the autumn air filling my lungs and it doesn’t bother me to know that it will only get colder over the next few months. Winter will be all right this year, because it isn’t rushing in just yet. This time, I’ve caught October, and I intend to hold her tightly until she finally fades away.