When I was eight years old, my family returned to the United States from Honduras. Mom and Dad were going to start a church in New England. We lived with The Rhode Island Grandparents for a few months, while my parents decided what kind of house they were going to build and where they wanted to build it. It was about ready to move into, in October of 1980, and so we did.
The house was a little grey one on an almost-dirt road (not to be confused with the actual dirt roads in the Middle of Nowhere, New Hampshire, or even in Our Fair City–but still pretty much in the middle of nowhere) with only four houses on it, all of which were on the same side of the road. At the time we moved into that house, only our house and one of the other ones had any children in it. That one had three (and soon after, four). Shelley-Down-the-Street was a year older than I was, and Katie-Down-the-Street was a year older than TheBro. They were the ones who commented on my wearing a dress to come over and play. We didn’t have a whole lot in common, really, except that we all lived in the same sparsely-populated neighbourhood, so we played together a lot.
Shelley-Down-the-Street and I, both being oldest children, had definite opinions about things, but we also both had Ideas. It was kind of interesting trying to merge our Ideas into something to play, since we had such different perspectives on life, even as children, but we usually managed to come up with something. It was from Shelley that I learned that sometimes men found women’s legs attractive. This was news to me, and seemed laughable and arbitrary at the time, innocent that I was. We played with some grass skirts that she and Katie got as souvenirs from a relative’s Hawaiian trip and I laughed about the legs thing to my parents, who seemed worried, but, as it turns out, they needn’t have.
Before all that, though, Shelley and I decided to created a Haunted Woods walk in the woods around our houses for Hallowe’en. We got out spiral notebooks and pencils and tromped around the woods where we thought we wanted the route to go, and imagined what gruesome things we would put at strategic locations. This whole idea was probably Shelley’s as well, considering the one time I ever went to a haunted house, the year before in Honduras at a classmate’s house, I was so overwhelmingly frightened I cried my head off and had to go home early.
Anyway, even the planning was really only playing. We never actually had the haunted walk. Or the acting school. Or the fancy autumn dinner for which we picked hemlock branches as centrepieces. A few years down the line, it occurred to me that we only ever had these grandiose ideas as the air started getting colder and the leaves started turning at the end of summer. Something about the crisp in the air got the creative juices flowing like apple cider or something (not the hard kind–obviously). I pointed this out. Making plans in the fall, I called it. And so it was.