Spooky Season as a Scaredy Cat

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I’m sure if your local stores are anything like mine, you’ve had Halloween candy and pumpkin spice candles on displays since July, but the season doesn’t quite feel right until that first morning when you step outside and get a gust of cold air that reminds you that you are wearing seasonally inappropriate attire. The atmosphere that comes around when the leaves start to change colors and the air gets that nice crisp feeling.

I enjoy fall, but I will happily admit that I am a scaredy cat. The spooky season comes not only with crunchy orange leaves, but with haunted houses and scary movies and all the things that go bump in the night. And I spend much of the season with my hands over my eyes hoping to avoid nightmares.

To enjoy the atmosphere of the spooky season while being easily terrified has become a challenge. I try to only watch scary movies in the middle of the day when all the lights are on and I’ve confirmed the doors and windows are locked. I reach for more atmospheric fair over your classic jump scares. I enjoy films aimed classically at children like Hocus Pocus or Halloweentown. I find my music taste moves away from summer bops to more seasonally appropriate music. And all of a sudden I start craving apple cider donuts.

Most of the time I can avoid the worst of the season – I skip friend’s invites to watch the newest scary show and have a firm line about not venturing to any haunted houses, but sometimes I am convinced (FOMO is real, y’all). One such instance was my first year of college. I told myself to say yes to every opportunity, which is how I ended up on a ropes course and how I ended up a part of a gospel choir.

So when my RA came around asking if anyone wanted to go to a haunted house in one of the campus fraternity houses, I was reluctant. She convinced me by saying that we were going on Wednesday, which was “kids night”, so it couldn’t possibly be too scary. I said alright and signed up. When we arrived, our group of six was led around to the back of the house and sent in. We lined up and held on to each other’s shoulders as we made our way through. I have to apologize to the girl in front of me because her coat had permanent claw marks from when I held on for dear life. It’s not the gory or the gross, and clowns aren’t even that frightening. It was the jump scares of which this particular house seemed fond of. My eyes might have been closed for the majority of the adventure and that breath of fresh air once we left was wonderful. On our way back to the dorm, I joked with one of the people who had run the event that it was awfuly scary for “kids night” to which they replied “Kids night was yesterday”.

My RA didn’t hear the end of that for a few months and I made a friend from across the hall confirm that there wasn’t anyone hiding in my room before I went to sleep for the night. And I haven’t been to another haunted house since.

Will I ever happily watch a scary movie? No. Will I let that keep me from enjoying autumn? Also no. But for now, I’ll avoid cemeteries at night and playing with ouija boards, and instead enjoy a handful of candy corn.

Williamsburg in the Fall

Travel

Yesterday, I took a day off from work for the first time since February. This special occasion was used to take a family trip to Williamsburg, Virginia.

The trip had a few core goals:

  1. get out of the DC area. Sometimes it’s necessary to venture out of the city for a bit.
  2. fulfill some autumnal traditions. We wanted to see orange and yellow leaves, and enjoy the few weeks of cool, crisp fall weather before we descend into winter. A bonus perk: our favorite fall tradition was moved online this year, so we needed something slightly autumnal and slightly historic to replace the hole left by the Waterford Fair.
  3. give my father an excuse to bike somewhere new and give me an opportunity to peek at a possible law school option. (Spoiler: both were successes.)

The drive usually takes about 3 hours, but due to light traffic and the fact that we drove down in the middle of the morning, the drive from DC to Williamsburg was pretty easy. The leaves aren’t quite ready to change yet, but every once in a while we would spot a bright orange tree. Once arriving, we had two priorities: park the car (preferably for free) and get something to eat. We were able to find a parking spot next to Bicentennial Park, just a few blocks from where we wanted to eat lunch.

Some basic preparatory research led us to having sandwiches from The Cheese Shop in Merchant’s Square. Though the house dressing had been slightly overhyped, the bread was yummy and the cookies that came with our meal were perfect snacks for that mid-afternoon nibble later on.

Once we’d finished eating, we set our game plan. My father would ride to Yorktown and back, which he guesstimated would take two and a half or three hours. During that time, my mom and I would pop over to William and Mary Law School and take a peek, before wandering around Williamsburg for a bit. Unfortunately, there are no tours right now and the campus is pretty quiet while most folks take their classes at home, but it was still nice to see the location and size of the school. (I’m a big fan of the idea that the most important part of applying to schools is getting to know their vibe and feel, and then going with your gut about whether you’d fit in there. Those feelings are tough to experience through a computer.) Fun fact: William and Mary Law School is the oldest law school in the U.S. (bonus points to anyone who can guess the oldest continuously running law school – W&M had to shut down for the pesky business of a civil war taking place just miles away.)

Unlike college campus visits, law schools don’t tend to be particularly large, so we decided to continue our walk. We lucked out that the date we’d picked a few weeks in advance for our visit ended up being a gorgeous day in the 70s with the sun in the sky and the occasional breeze. We made our way back towards Merchant’s Square, turning early into the neighborhood. Our path led us towards William and Mary‘s undergraduate campus. Despite many visits to Williamsburg over the years, neither my mom nor I had been on their campus and we were both surprised at just how large it is – every time we thought we’d reached the end, there were more buildings.

Once we’d finished with our campus tours, we decided to stop for a snack. We grabbed milkshakes from Baskin-Robbins and found a bench in the shade in Merchant’s Square. While resting our feet, we had the chance to do some people watching, an activity I haven’t really been able to do in the last six months. The nice weather brought out tourists, locals, students, and the occasional puppy to entertain us while we rested a little.

Following our break, my mom and I made our way through Colonial Williamsburg. There’s no ticket required to just wander about and there were very few tourists or groups out and about. We walked the length of Duke of Gloucester Street admiring the historic homes and the blue skies. For our return to the car, we opted for a side road, Francis Street, that would provide a different view. It rewarded us with a shady walk and a field of sheep. Our timing was pretty good as we made it back to the car just as my dad arrived.

I cannot vouch for the length of the car ride home as I was worn out and took a nice nap in the backseat, but overall, I’d say the day was a success. Now to plot the next day trip…

Seasonal Transitions

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We’re at that strange point of the year where we’ve had one or two cool days and all of a sudden every bone in my body is ready for winter. And when I saw cool, I mean not a thousand degrees out and humid.

Maybe it was the first load of Halloween candy displayed at the beginning of September but I’m fully in an autumn mindset.

I’m dreaming of crunching fallen leaves beneath my feet and wearing a scarf everyday. I’m thinking about road trips to see the leaves change colors and switching out my summer clothes for warmer sweaters and tights. I’m looking forward to hands wrapped around cups of tea and that tingle that comes from being hit by a brisk wind.

I am officially over sweating and tourist season and sunburns.

So everyone grab a cozy sweater, light a candle, and lets all pretend it won’t be 90 on Sunday.