There’s nothing quite like Halloween to bum you out about infertility.
I used to love Halloween. I loved everything about it – the candy, the dressing up in weird costumes, the merriment, the freedom from obligation of gift giving – just fucking everything. Halloween was the greatest.
Yet the last two Halloweens I haven’t done anything at all. I haven’t put together a costume, gone to a party, watched a horror movie, or even hardly bought any candy to hand out to the kids in my neighborhood. I haven’t carved a pumpkin either, but that’s nothing new. I’ve never carved a pumpkin in my entire life, and I don’t really give a shit about it. The smell of it grossed me out as a kid, and all I can picture is my mom hectoring me about how much fun it was supposed to be. I hated being told when and how to have fun, so I always resented pumpkin carving, which is insane. But whatever.
Instead, my Halloween celebrations the last two years have consisted of me closing myself off in my office and getting bummed out all day. This year it was so bad, I actually had to put my headphones in and listen to some loud ass punk rock to shut out the noise. What possible noise could be so overwhelming it caused me to want to shut the world out?
I couldn’t take the sounds of the kids of my co-workers walking around my floor trick-or-treating. I didn’t want to see them in their costumes. I didn’t want to hear their little high-pitched voices. And I didn’t want to have to feign that I enjoyed seeing them. I would have probably wept in their faces.
So instead I closed the door and wept by myself.
When I picture fatherhood, it’s still largely an abstraction. I see my friends do it, and I understand it more or less intellectually. But it’s still hard to picture yourself as fundamentally different than you are right now.
But there are two things I can picture doing with my (to this point, still hypothetical) kids with remarkable clarity. The first is hanging out at the pool, and, by extension, going to Water World. I’m still a kid at heart at both of those places, so it’s easy to picture jumping off the diving board and playing pool games and goofing off. Water World is probably one of my Top 5 favorite places on earth, and I can’t wait to have an excuse to go there more frequently.
The other is Halloween. I picture walking around from house to house with my kids and going to haunted houses and helping them have awesome costumes that all the other kids in their dumb little school are envious of. It’s a fun picture, and one that always makes me smile when I think about what my life would be like as a father.
But when the actual day of Halloween rolls around and I see so many other dads living inside of my fantasy while I’m still so far away from it, it makes me insane with jealousy and desperately sad. The vast majority of the time, I roll with the infertility punches pretty well. Kristin and I stay on the same team, we support each other, and we keep our chins up hoping ever optimistically for a change in our luck.
But this is the day I can’t ignore all the helplessness, resentment, loneliness, insecurity, envy, and just plain old sadness of infertility. As I said to Kristin on the phone, “I hate everything today.”
I am too fucking old for DRUNKOWEEN and ignoring the festivities of the day just as bad because this ridiculous holiday is too much goddamn fun to be callously disregarded. So I’m left in limbo where I’m neither fish nor fowl. I’m only reminded of what I want to be, but can’t be for reasons I have virtually no control over.
I grit my teeth, wait for the day to be over, shut the world out, let the tears burn my cheeks, steel myself, continue to hope for good news, and turn the punk rock volume up. There’s nothing else to do.
Despite all of this malaise, I sincerely hope everyone had a Happy Halloween. More than that, I hope next year I have one, too.