When I reflect on Halloweens past, the year that stands out in my mind the most is 1983. I was in the third grade. I didn’t have a particularly interesting costume that year. In fact, I don’t even remember what I wore, although if I had to guess, it was likely Strawberry Shortcake. I wore that costume several times throughout my childhood (and a few times as an adult). What was so memorable about that year is that I went trick or treating without an adult chaperone. Instead of my parents, I went out with the girl next door and her friends.
Tracy was older than me, by three, maybe four years, and I looked up to her. She told me secrets and introduced me to alternative shoelace configurations, glittery nail polish and Joan Jett. The previous summer she had entertained me while I was quarantined with chicken pox (she had already had them and was immune). We would listen to her records on my Mickey Mouse record player while roller skating on the concrete floor in our unfinished basement. She tolerated my naivety and immaturity while I studied her for clues as to how I could someday be as pretty and sophisticated as I saw her back then.
I don’t know how or why I was afforded the privilege of hanging out with her and her friends that night. It doesn’t matter. All I know is that night we ventured farther out of our neighborhood at night than I’d ever been without a grown up. Then at the end of the night we went to McDonalds. There I was, hanging out with the girls at a restaurant. We were nearly a kilometer from home eating french fries acquired with treat coupons we had picked up along the way. I felt so cool and independent. It was incredible. It wasn’t until years later when I drove a car alone for the first time, that I would feel that free again.
By the following year we had moved across town and I didn’t see Tracy much after that. With such a big difference in age, our lives never really overlapped outside of being neighbours. Wherever she is now, I wish her well and I’ll always be so grateful that she let me tag along with her that night. It really meant a lot.