After too many months of not enough sun, John and I decided it was time to travel to a warm locale where we could soak up some vitamin D and broaden our cultural horizons (what a cliche) by not just sitting on a beach in the Canary Islands like we did last year, but by taking my aunt & uncle’s advice and heading to Marrakech for a few days. I’d been interested in Morocco since college, when I took a French class on North African literature (or something to that effect). Plus, I really like tagine, dates, and Moroccan mint tea, and the fact that Marrakech was just a 3 hour plane ride from Gatwick was icing on the cake (the very same moist, delicious cake our Riad served us for breakfast every morning).
We skipped celebrating Halloween last year. No, really- we were those people who hid in the bedroom with the lights out, and whenever the doorbell rang, I held my breath until I heard the footsteps fade away. I knew the kids couldn’t hear me breathing anyway, but somehow that abated my guilt.
This year, we resurrected the Halloween party we had two years ago, down to the same costumes. We also invited friends from different social circles (e.g. John’s entire department and my ex-colleagues) who ended up chatting and, I think, enjoying each other’s company. I still remember my friend Robyn praising our 2012 bash, saying she loved how we invited people from various parts of our lives who didn’t know each other, but who all got along. It’s damn hard to make friends when you’re an adult (or maybe it’s just me?) so I like opportunities to throw strangers into a room and see what happens.
We had a really great time, which always surprises me about parties. I don’t really like large gatherings and feel the need to take a nap after talking for more than 10 minutes, but good company and good food put me at ease. Seriously, friends went out of their way, bringing gorgeous caramel apples and chocolate cake and pizza and…the list goes on. I tried to refrain from turning into my alter ego, DJ ADD (if we were at a party together in college, you’ll remember my tendency to change songs after 30 seconds), and let Spotify do the work with a cheesy Halloween playlist. Not even mine. I’ve become lazier about parties, abandoning the obsessive cleaning beforehand (well, to an extent), and even buying a dessert instead of making one from scratch. No one complained.
I was also dreading the party a bit because of the costume factor, even though I love dressing up and putting on layers upon layers of eyeshadow. John and I were zombie Germans two years ago, and again laziness drove the decision to recycle those costumes. But my dirndl is now at least two sizes too small, a result of loosening my iron grip over food intake, not setting foot in a gym for 3 months, and, well, an affinity for dipping chocolate in peanut butter. When you have to pay outrageous prices for Reese’s in this country, you go to extreme measures for your fix.
I try not to let it get to me, because I hate the pressure on women to look and act a certain way and I try not to buy into all of that (anymore). But squeezed into that dirndl, I couldn’t help compare myself to those cumberland sausages I was serving. I was paranoid that buttons were going to pop off. I thought, how was I ever that small? Oddly enough, I didn’t feel small, then. That’s body dysmorphia for you.
Anyway, I put my faith in German craftsmanship and trusted that my top would stay buttoned, and luckily it did. I let insecurities slip into the background as I gave John some smokey eyes and teased my hair into oblivion, and welcomed friends into our teeny tiny apartment (seriously, it was a little like a clown car, but doable). As for next year, I think it’s time to retire the Gretel get-up and wear something that fits, and not feel bad about it.