31 October, 2022

The Halloween in the Hoosegow That Almost Wasn't

Halloween is my favorite holiday. Candy and costumes and creepy-but-playful aesthetics pretty much construe a trifecta, as far as I'm concerned. For ten years I've decorated my cell on Halloween and thrown together a massive mess of nachos to feast on. But everything ends. Entropy, that gray-faced, ruined daughter of thermodynamics, guarantees the gradual decline of all things. Why should my long-standing tradition be an exception?

Let me be clear: it's not that I wasn't feeling the spirit of the season. Mornings in Bonne Terre have been black and cold; the evenings have been darkly cloud-smeared. This is my kind of weather. I waited all summer for it, and now that it's here, I meet it with gratitude.

Still, I have been feeling distant. The twenty-fifth anniversary of two friends' deaths
– the catalyst for much teenage misery and my twenty-one-year wrongful imprisonment passed like a dim shadow over last week. I dwelled in it, a houseguest aware that he's outstayed his welcome. Feeling down, but not completely dour, at least I moved through my days with purpose. I threw myself at work with the usual appreciative attitude and followed my joy into the free hours. Then, at some point I read about an ancient Buddhist exhortation to "dance in the charnel ground" that is, in a graveyard. That's a close approximation of the attitude I seek to cultivate. It's not about loving misery, it's about loving your life and living it, fully awake in every moment. There's only so much that an imprisoned All Hallow's Eve aficionado can do, but something clicked for me in that moment I read that, and I resolved to, if not dance, at least do a little two-step on the prison yard. Considering how much time I spend at work, and the few waking hours I'm actually in the cell, decorating in the housing unit seemed kind of futile. So, a week ago, I carried all of my decorations to work with me and asked my coworkers if they'd be interested in spookifying the place a bit. They threw themselves into it. We put skulls on the server cabinet and hung origami monster heads from the big screen. We stuck spider cutouts to the walls. A paper jack-o'-lantern leers from the refrigerator door in the kitchenette. Suddenly, every member of Team XSTREAM has caught the spirit of the season. Everyone wants to talk about spooky movies. A few of them are throwing in together to make a Halloween pizza.
And me? I broke down and bought the ingredients for nachos that I'd been thinking of doing without. I also scheduled a Bauhaus concert film to play on one of the TV channels that I run. Between the gothy music, the gluttonous junk-food gorge, and several other great entertainment options (my coworker scheduled David Lynch's Eraserhead for his channel), it seems that my feet have found their rhythm tonight.

1 comment:

  1. I'm glad you're getting into it. I hope this is the last one you spend inside.


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