Eggplants and Sandals: Halloween Gone Greek

November 1, 2010

Happy Halloween!

Growing older: the days drip into buckets, overflowing into months, and meeting in a depth of years that I can wade around in, kick against, and dive into. By twenty-four, my little tide pool has expanded, and I have enough beneath me to float, face up on the good days, down on the bad – suspended by the continuity of the “times” and “periods” and “phases” that, at one point, felt disjointed and jumbled, determined never to coagulate. Benefiting from the privilege of growing older, I can look back and shake my head at all of the outfits I’ve slipped into over the blip of my two dozen years. Flip through the still frames we accumulate, and all of us can be found hopping around ankle-deep in a messy dressing room throwing on and off the threads of martyrdom, virginity, arrogance, naiveté promiscuity, doubt, confusion, and confidence. Mismatched or coordinated, we’ve worn it second-hand and steam pressed: giver, taker, asshole, train wreck, confidante, liar, perfectionist, idealist, nihilist, closet case, and spokesperson. At some point, it fit, we bought it, and we wore it as a nightgown or a party shirt. Pluck people from our past, and they’ll have a mental, emotional, and, Christ on a cracker, maybe even a physical photograph of the fashion that we willingly brought through check-out at one time or another. In an experimental shuffle of my own identity deck, I came up with my nineteen year-old-self driving home from college with hairy legs and a dog-eared book called: “Cunt.” In one hand I can hold five, six, seven versions of my former self before having to fold out of amusement, embarrassment, or utter disbelief. We all can.

So, instead of delving deeper into some sort of psychological fashion show, I’ve decided to focus on costumes of a more traditional, annual, and tangible design: Halloween. On the eve of this fine holiday, Whitney and I are sitting on an overnight ferry eating oregano flavored potato chips and compiling a list of our past Halloween costumes. In the midst of a boat-full of Greeks, our holiday seems insignificant and imperative all at once. What these worry-bead tossin’, stubble sportin’, futbol watchin’ men don’t know is that we were not always backpack carryin’, picture takin’, ferry commutin’ tourists. Truth be told, the two of us combined celebrated this spooky evening as a:

lady bug, bumblebee, grandmother, ghost, clown, cow, witch, pterodactyl, troll, mummy, and waitress.

Yes, on our home turf, we have been known to transform into:

Bill Clinton, Pippi Longstocking, Cat Woman, Cousin It, Tigger, and…a backup dancer for Limp Bizkit.

Today, however, no costumes were needed to add to the absurdity of carving vegetables on the front steps of our host’s apartment. After thoroughly scouring the grocery stores of Mytilene for pumpkins, Whitney and I settled for two eggplants and an unknown vegetable bearing melon-like qualities. Warm weather and an Istanbul shoe thief may have forced us into unseasonable sandals, but we were determined to hollow out and personify an edible item. In the process of acting on this deep-rooted urge, we managed to attract stray animals and stop an old Greek woman in her tracks. As a result, three little monsters now sit on top of a Greek windowsill to the puzzlement of neighbors and pedestrians alike.

The day has just now ended. It’s 12:15am on November 1st, and Halloween 2010 is already a drop in the bucket. In a few minutes, I will close this laptop and lay my sleeping bag down on the floor until the boat hits the Athens shoreline a few hours from now. All this talk about identities and costumes has me hyper aware of my current attire: the jeans that double as my makeshift napkin, and my more abstract identity as a dirtball backpacker. Both are fleeting; both bring me happiness beyond belief; and both constitute the shape of my malleable being at age twenty-four – a card I very much look forward to adding to the deck.

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