“is it time?” i asked at the beginning of every september as the winnetka police department put out the “drive safely, no, really, we mean it this time because the kids are back in school and nobody around here teaches their kids to look both ways” signs.
“no,” eastman would say firmly.
“is it time?” i would ask when winnetka matrons would put winter cabbage and mums in their front porch urns and caribou coffee announced pumpkin lattes and pumpkin mochas and pumpkin tea.
“no,” joseph would say.
“is it time?” i would ask when i ripped the scribbled over september sheet of the family calendar from the refrigerator.
“all right, fine, whatever,” the boys would say.
and i would put up the halloween decorations: skulls hanging from the trees surrounding our house. tenacious spider webs that would cling until the first hard spring rain. a giant spider that had to be blown up and plugged in and held down with tent stakes and it would still roll over into the street. and my costume for the big day? i should use the plural, because i don’t like to limit myself to just one.
but this year, no halloween for me. october has become the month of the final sprint towards a number–325. i made a new years resolution to meet all my facebook friends and i am now, ahem, ready to meet up with the 230th friend tomorrow. i am 70.4% towards my goal, which puts me at 1.4% short of being on target. i’m feeling the pressure. on the other hand, most of my new years resolutions of old–losing weight, giving up drinking, cleaning out every closet in this house–are usually forgotten by february. so missing halloween will be a small sacrifice–i’ll be in dubai when the big day happens and i can assure you i will not be regaling the good citizens of that country with accounts of goblins and ghosts and obama costumes.
at the beginning of the weekend, i saw f2fb friend #227 tom seymour. he was a stage manager who saved a play i was working on. tom often posts lines from movies. the words seem utterly random until you figure out that it’s a movie line and you think “what movie?” and the reptilian part of your brain thinks it through and four hours later, you respond with another quote from the same movie.
he generally works as a property manager and october first means the day that people get their keys and move into the apartments he manages. it took a little persuading to get him to take the evening before the first to see me, but his brother charlie (f2fb friend #20) hosted a dinner party which, oddly enough, was comprised almost exclusively of facebook friends i have already visited with. it was fun to review the year, to catch up with people, to do this in a relaxed manner that a christmas dinner party would not quite allow.
tom is a smoker and he invited me to join him. i realized it’s been a long time since i went out onto the front porch with my son eastman (f2fb friend #1) and smoked a cigarette and made a video and thought “i just have to do this 324 more times and i’ll be a success!”.
the next morning, i met two f2fb friends. they live together. both of them are intensely shy. one of them is dealing with an internet stalker. i have had some experience with stalking and it’s awful. i went to a third friend who is related to both of them. she made a ruling: i would acknowledge that i have met f2fb friends #228 and 229 and i could use a picture i took outside their home. then i realized the picture showed the license plate of their car. because of the stalker, i decided to forego the picture.
three quarters of the way into the year, travel arrangements secure, money tight but i’m holding firm, joseph has agreed to come with me around the world–i have only to battle the ghosts and goblins that every resolve entails: self-doubt, self-loathing, taking the criticisms of friends and strangers to heart, faltering determination. always i have turned to my friends for help. i have no doubts about them. i believe everything can be done so long as one turns to one’s friends for help. i am grateful.