“What are you supposed to be?”
Everyone, Fall Party 2012
Emily and I walk back to school Friday night, partially costumed as our respective favorite things. That’s the theme of this year’s High School Fall Party: Our Favorite Things. All students and staff have been instructed to dress up as… essentially anything. Anything that we like, that is. Emily dresses as a chocolate bar, in brown with tinfoil cuff and collar. I don Toms, skinny jeans, hand-knit scarf, heavy-framed glasses and a Starbucks apron, dressed ambiguously as “Seattle.” This getup earns me not a few confused stares when I stand next to Timmy, who has dressed as a GI Joe.
I don’t love dressing up. I used to, I think, back when the ready dress-up box had interesting apparel in it, when my thirft-store wedding gown tripped me up regularly and Grandma’s jewelry was in-bounds for this imaginary princess. As an adult, a costume requires a certain amount of thought, originality, time and sometimes even money. This year, as in many years past, I tailored my favorite thing to match what I had lying around the house.
When we arrive to the party, it’s clear that our students are better at this than I. The costumes are truly the best part of the party. There are favorite nations (France, Dominican Republic, Mexico), favorite people (Lady Jane Grey, spouses, other students), favorite candies (Haribo and Chupa Chup) and dozens of favorite sports (biking, soccer, tae kwon do). I spy a sashimi roll and a Rubik’s cube, along with several characters from Super Smash Bros. One dorm comes as greasers, and the female RAs dress as different Disney princesses.
It makes me smile, all of these kids at boarding school, creating costumes out of just what they have. I know that different elsewhere, the mess and expense of ready-made Halloween costumes, to be worn once and then thrown away. Here, the Pinterest-addicted do-it-yourself culture of BFA shines clearly. Who cares that they don’t have a thrift, costume or craft store anywhere near here? If they want to be Sherlock Holmes, or Canada or string cheese, they’ll figure it out. Because they are clever, these students, and nothing if not determined.
After the fashion show, I go up to the gym to watch students bowl and slackline, with breaks to toss footballs at buckets and tennis balls at cups. I duck into a game of dodgeball just in time to throw a squishy ball at a girl dressed as “the ocean” in a floaty blue evening gown, hopping aside the attack from a snowboarder across the way.
And I think of how “easily entertained” is sometimes tossed out with a sneer at those who find pleasure in small things. It’s not exactly easy, this evening, but it is simple, put together mostly with the hard work of students, the kids who care enough to throw a party for their friends and make a costume out of whatever they can find. I could probably make it a metaphor for missionary kids, that ingenuous breed who can create community out of almost anything. For now, though, I’ll say I’m in love, again, with this place and these kids, and a little embarrassed about my perfunctory costume.
Oh well. There’s always next year.