The other day I took Alex and Ryan to the pumpkin patch. Actually, it’s not a patch at all. Sure, they have pumpkin patches pretty close to our house, but the one I took them to was a row of bounce houses and big slides, with a few pumpkins lined up on the concrete. It’s actually way more fun for them than a real pumpkin patch. We didn’t have pumpkin patches when I was a kid…we got our pumpkins at ShopRite or wherever….and I always felt like there was some underlying issue with being Jewish and celebrating Halloween, like it wasn’t a Jewish holiday or something.
Of all of the holidays, you would think I would have loved Halloween. But I never did; dressing up stressed me out. I do remember wearing whatever plastic Star Wars costume we got at Toys R Us. And as I got older, I remember running around with my friends in the neighborhood spraying each other with shaving cream and throwing eggs. I think that was the cool thing to do. I can’t even imagine kids in the Bay Area doing that, but maybe they do. I specifically remember never dressing up for Halloween when I was in my teens, except maybe one time as a Beastie Boy, because I hated looking stupid and was afraid people would make fun of me. I’ve always been anti-dress up. For most of my childhood I even refused to wear collared shirts.
Amy and I started dating the week of Halloween in 1997. I remember her going out on the Upper West side to a party or bars or something but I wouldn’t go since I hated Halloween. I remember she told me she was going to wear her Edina High School cheerleading outfit. She woke me up with a call after midnight. She wasn’t sober. She asked if she could come over. I told her no. OH MY GOD!! I’M SO DUMB!! If it wasn’t already obvious, I’m officially the lamest person ever.
Ok, anyway, back to last week. We’re at the bounce house and I have this feeling that overwhelms me, like deja vu only different because I know exactly why I’m feeling the way I do. I’m watching the boys jump all around the bounce houses and Alex says he wants to go into the Lightning McQueen one.
Two years ago, Alex and I spent almost every weeknight for a month frequenting this very same bounce house row. Amy was nine months pregnant and still working full time. Most nights when she got home from work, she was exhausted and what she needed most was to lie down and relax. Honestly, I think she just lied in bed and obsessively counted kicks. But, either way, she needed time to decompress and I gave it to her by taking Alex out for an hour. And boy, did he love those bounce houses. It was colder during that October and it actually rained a little bit so it would be Alex and a few other kids at most. He wasn’t really talking then, even as a 3-year-old, but he just loved to jump and go down the slides. Some evenings went well, and some evenings went poorly if there were bigger kids that weren’t very nice and he couldn’t communicate with them. It wasn’t the easiest time in our lives, but the moments of watching him race around the pumpkin patch carved an indelible image in my brain. It feels so long ago.
When I saw Alex and his little brother Ryan jumping in the Lightning McQueen bounce house last week, I got a little nostalgic, maybe even weepy. Two years later and here’s Alex tackling that little boy who was kicking the inside of his mother’s uterus just two years ago. Yelling at him “Ryan…do you want to go down the slide with me?” Watching the rush hour Caltrains zoom past us and both boys in unison yelling “TRAIN!”
I’ll never really look at a bounce house the same way again. And for that matter, I love Halloween now. It’s always been Amy’s favorite and now we’ll always remember it as the day our little pumpkin Ryan came home from the hospital.
The biggest challenge now is trying to get Alex to decide on a costume. He doesn’t get stressed out like me, he just can’t decide. So far, he says he wants to go as a sock. Yep, you heard that right, a sock. Then he laughs, he’s a pretty silly kid. Ryan is going to go as Chase, the police dog from the Paw Patrol, his favorite show. And this year, their grandparents are flying out for Ryan’s birthday and Halloween. You can bet my dad will be the first kid into the bounce house.
As for me, I’m thinking of dressing up this year too.
Maybe I’ll go as a cheerleader.