Growing up in the projects, mine was a life of privilege. Every day promised Halloween excitement and surprises waited just outside my apartment door. I could encounter a ghoul in the hallway or behind a stairway door. Step into the elevator and find myself trapped with urine, blood — or both! The only difference on Halloween was I left the apartment in costume, armed with a plastic prop, and returned with treats.
It was an adventure to get those treats. It was okay to ring 2G’s bell if no yelling or body slams were heard through the door. Ringing 3F’s bell was rewarded with a full-sized chocolate bar but it also signaled the old lady in 3E to open her door. Shrunken and musty, all she ever had were starlight peppermint candies, pennies, and a desperate need for company. I never knew if 4A had candy but I knew never to ring their bell. The rumor was they were crackheads. I didn’t know if that was exactly true but had seen the police parked below their window twice because someone was dangling a baby beyond the ledge.
My suburban friends tell stories of annual farm visits to pick pumpkins, go on hay rides, and walk through barns transformed into haunted houses. I don’t look back like I missed out on a better childhood experience. I anticipated – and got – the unexpected every day. Both tricks and treats.