Sunday, October 24, 2010

Moura McGovern - Pumpkin Skies

This Halloween I’m going to be either a) Nurse “Juana be Betta,” b) a love bug, or c) a dream woman. That’s right, this Halloween, I’m going to be a slut.

I’m very excited. I’ve never been a slut before (at least not for Halloween).

Actually, the last time I celebrated Halloween, I was still young enough to have my mom make my ghost costume. And by “celebrate,” I mean to put on a costume, of any kind; or to participate in trick or treating, of any kind; or attend a Halloween party, of any kind. This may or may not be sad. I am trying to decide. Mostly Halloween looked to me like a reason for people to pretend to be something, someone else. I have always had a hard enough time being me.

When I was teaching and going to grad school at Penn State, I had the unfortunate experience of being on the “trick” side of trick or treat. The night was cold enough to shatter glass, which is what happened when the first egg hit my storm window. Another egg stained the house’s aluminum siding, which then baked into a nasty splotch that power-washing could never remove. And to think: I thought I was a nice teacher. And to think: I would prefer to believe that those eggs were aimed at the professor who lived in the house before me.

On the topic of before and after: Before I went off to grad school, I worked hard at being a respectable wife and businessperson. I wore a lot of navy blue, and I frowned a lot. Somewhere along the way, I forgot how to have fun. I also forgot how to be me. I poached a lot of eggs. Perhaps I should have thrown them instead.

For many years, I had a recurring nightmare in which I was lost. Different versions of the dream played out: I’d be walking through the rain, trying to catch sight of Boston’s Hancock Tower so I could locate myself. Or I’d be driving in the rain, but it would be coming down in sheets, sheets so thick that I wouldn’t be able to see the exit signs. I used to try to be who my husband wanted me to be (nurse, love bug, dream girl, respectable wife, or business person). Then one day, I woke up and realized I didn’t celebrate anything anymore. I avoided Halloween. Thanksgiving was a nightmare to be borne. Christmas was a pain in the nether regions. Forget about celebrating the beauty of every day life. I was blind to the sunrises and sunsets that saturate the horizon in a pumpkin glow.

Then one fall night, I woke up realized I couldn’t be who someone else wanted me to be. That’s when I got divorced and went back to school. During that time, I had the nightmare again, and it turned into a dream. I was on a long road, and -- finally -- I could read every sign before me. I could navigate. I drove, and I walked, and I rode, and I found my way, with every twist and every turn.

It has been a long road. So, this Halloween, I might be a) Nurse Juana Be Betta, because I have in fact made my life better. I might be b) a love bug, because I have learned to love -- and to celebrate -- again. Or, I might be c) a dream woman. Because now I am who I dreamed I would be, back when I was still young enough to believe I could be anyone I wanted to be. Just me.

Moura McGovern is an editor and writer who lives in Philadelphia, PA. You can read more of her work at

1 comment:

  1. I super approve. Great writing, and great Halloweening. There's no point in doing either if you don't enjoy it.