On Halloween
+ California Traditions

Posted on: Saturday, October 31, 2015

Our first Halloween in the Bay Area, Christian and I drove up to San Francisco to visit our friends Jake and Cecille. I dressed as Alice in armor from the battle scene in the Tim Burton adaption of Alice in Wonderland–no one really knew what I was, but I wore fabric that looked like mail wrapped around silver leggings and a duct taped coat I’d fashioned over a sequined top. I wielded a cardboard and duct tape sword. My hair was long and curly and wild. Christian dressed as a peanut. He got chased by some monkeys we met on the street. Our friend Meryl was Calvin from Calvin and Hobbes. Jake and Cecille were bacon and eggs. It was fun.

That year, we also hosted a pumpkin carving party at our first apartment in Live Oak. We’ve carved pumpkins with the same group of Santa Cruz friends (give or take one or two) every year since. This year we carved pumpkins at our friend Tish’s place. I carved a Hello Kitty face. C carved a Hello Kitty witch. After we were done with all the gutting and careful chiseling (and occasional hacking) of our selected pumpkins, we threw a bunch of food on the grill and sat around Tish’s fire pit. We also broke out some glow sticks and Christian and I played with neon light and long exposures on my camera (see the last photos of this post for a message from us!). It was a slightly new spin on something we’ve been doing together for years now.

These last three years, Christian and I have driven up Highway 1 to Bob’s in Half Moon Bay to pick out our pumpkins. There are closer pumpkin patches we could visit but Bob’s holds a certain charm. The sign declares “Pick ’em where they grow!”. At Bob’s you have a view of the ocean while you browse the fields in search of your perfect pumpkin to pick (I like mine short and squat! Christian favors the tall skinny ones). There are “spooky” stand-ins for photo ops, a rusted out truck and bins filled with bewitching miniature pumpkins and squash–striped ones, green ones, white one, yellow, gray, orange, peach. And just outside the patch, there is a small petting zoo with goats and pigs and chickens and a turkey. The whole area is usually shrouded in fog, which I love. It’s a very California version of fall.

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This year we’re going up to the San Francisco to celebrate Halloween with Jake and Cecille again. I think it will be our last Halloween in the Bay Area. It feels appropriate somehow–that our very first and very last Halloween will have been spent in the city. Although admittedly I’m a little sad that I’m going to miss the downtown Santa Cruz experience this year. Every Halloween Pacific Avenue is closed off to cars and big lights go up and the street fills with crowds of costumed people, many of them decked out in the most incredible ensembles you could imagine. You walk up and down the street and marvel at people’s creativity. There is a lot of exclaiming and calling out to one another; lots of congratulations are exchanged. You take photos with people and their costumes. Groups of people stage dances and crowds of other people in masks and makeup and dress-up gather around them to watch and cheer and applaud.

That being said, I’m very excited for Halloween in San Francisco. Especially since our friend Russ is hosting a Halloween party. It will be good costumes and great people. Christian and I are going as Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders. I think my favorite costume from our years in Santa Cruz was the year I bedazzled black leggings and a hooded sweatshirt and went as “outer space”. This year should be funny though (because I’m going as Bernie and Christian is going as Hillary). But mostly, I’m just looking forward to seeing our friends in the city.

I guess what I’m trying to get at, is that we’ve established traditions here in Santa Cruz. And even though my heart has never fully left Washington, I know I’m going to miss this place when we finally leave–I’ll miss our favorite haunts and all of our friends and the things we’ve done together every year for the last five years. It’s kind of silly that Halloween makes me feel this way, but it’s the only holiday that we’ve consistently spent here in the Bay Area. And it’s the one that has always meant hanging out with the friends we have here (people who we’ve grown to appreciate more and more each year). Since moving to California we’ve spent Thanksgiving in state, but typically it’s been with family; for Christmas we always go back to Washington. And Fourth of July… well Fourth of July is kind of a nonevent in Santa Cruz (to be fair, it could never compare with how we do the Fourth up in the Pacific Northwest!). But for the last five years, we’ve always celebrated Halloween in California with our California favorites. So Here’s to one last Halloween Hurrah in the Bay Area!

Photos of our pumpkin patch adventures at Bob’s and the pumpkins carved at our fifth annual pumpkin carving party below:

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I hope everyone has a Happy Halloween! I’m excited to see friends and strangers in crazy, creative, hilarious, beautiful, whimsical, nostalgic, surprising costumes! Maybe you’ll see a few of the costumes I saw on Halloween here on the blog in a couple of days… Think of it as my belated treat to you. I’ve never been very good at tricks…

BOO!

*Photos 11 – 13 (of me and Buckwheat) taken by Christian



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