Just another Oct. 31

I skipped Halloween tonight. This seems pretty sad at first: I mean, I have always loved Halloween and tend to dress up each year–if you exclude a handful of early high school Halloweens when I was too cool (and too old, according to my parents) to dress up and go trick-or-treating.

I’ve told you a little bit
about my dear friend HT before. She and I are very similar in a variety of ways–it’s not just our height and Germanic looks. (What an odd non-Janet-sounding sentence. I’ll keep it.) We get along well for many reasons; it helps that she is perhaps the only real-life person I know who genuinely understands what it’s like to live with a chronic illness. Because our personalities and senses of humor are so similar, our perspectives are that much more in sync.

Earlier this week, I called her to see if she’d be interesting in spending the night IN on Halloween. As the night is her favorite holiday, I knew she might be reluctant to commit. As she’d been pretty sick off and on for the weeks prior, I knew she’d probably end up being able to hang out with little old me. As it turns out, we did get to spend time together. We had dinner, chit-chatted, and watched The Shining for the first time in over a decade (for each of us). Let me just tell you: this movie is AWESOME. I somehow remembered it as being sort of slow and boring until the final scenes–but my 28-year-old self now scolds my high school self for not having realized how wonderfully suspenseful the film is. The experience I had watching it was lessened by the pain and discomfort I felt during the loud scenes or very bright shots. I thought to myself a few times, “Wow–this would REALLY be painful in a movie theatre!” I asked HT to turn the volume down once or twice, but the high-pitched, sitting-on-the-edge-of-your-seat squeaky strings still got to me. When I watch TV with my boyfriend, I almost always have to ask him to turn it down for me. (He’s a musician who must already have irreversible hearing damage; I’m an ultra-sensitive girlfriend who is getting paid back by karma for all the times her older sister used to tell her to turn down the volume.) I can relax pretty well on my own, but now even laid-back activities are threats of pain and discomfort. I don’t like that, even when I’m in a friend’s quiet, smoke-free house–a place that should be lovely for a migraineur–I have to ask her to make many adjustments to accommodate me.

I suppose I feel as if I’m always on guard; that a trigger could be waiting around the corner. IS waiting around the corner, and I’ve got to be quick enough to catch it.

Even now I’m affected by the unintentional elements of my visit. When HT gave me a long hug goodnight, I could smell hand sanitizer on her, hand sanitizer with a strong scent (strong for me, at least). Even the hug couldn’t be an enjoyable goodbye–instead I was thinking, “Oh, I hope she doesn’t hold on too long, because that smell is going to wear off onto my clothes and it’ll bug me!” Now I’m sitting at this computer, 30 minutes after saying goodnight, and the hand sanitizer smell is wafting through the air and sending daggers through my nose into my brain. Sorry.

So yeah. Back to Halloween. We drove downtown once to deliver HT’s husband’s i.d. to him–he’d forgotten to carry it along with him in his costume. We got to see a few costumes and were creepily incognito: we wore bags on our heads as we parked outside my favorite bar and waited for HT’s husband to come out. Only he and two other friends knew who we were; they snapped a few photos of us. I looked beyond them and saw many of my friends outside the bar, no one knowing I was near. And then we pulled off.

And you know what? I’m not sorry I didn’t got out. At this pinot, the night is over for most folks in town and I’m sure they had a great time. So did I. I continue to get used to this lower-key Janet who chooses to stay in when she used to be social, social, social. I hope I stop questioning her choices so much and trust her to do the right thing.

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