Living in an apartment, you can’t get too excited about Halloween. Even if your porch light is on, kids won’t come to your apartment to trick-or-treat. Carved pumpkins can line your doorstep, your apartment door can be strung with orange and black lights, and you can go all out with every Halloween decoration available at Party City, but you won’t hear the doorbell ring or a knock on your door. Even the parents who have children in apartment complexes don’t encourage even their own children to go door to door in the complex; they are driving them to the nearest mall or most often the coolest neighborhood near their apartment.

          Last year I was that apartment parent. I scoured the neighborhood that would provide the greatest excitement. I wasn’t walking into this venture blind. I understood the rules. I knew that blending in was important. So I parked my car three or four blocks down the neighborhood and coolly walked on the street with my daughter in hand pretending that, yes, we live in the neighborhood. As we walked down the street I saw the real neighbors mingling and laughing with their children. I felt like I was committing a crime and my daughter was my accomplice. I knew we didn’t belong here. We walked back to the car and I quickly loaded her in the car seat and drove back to the apartment.

          This year there is no pretending. We own our first home in our very first neighborhood. We are prepared. We made a special trip to the grocery store to stock up on every candy imaginable and bought a few back-up candy bags so we don’t run out. This year we will greet the revelry of trick-or-treaters and see the cute costumes as the children say “twick-or-treat”.

          My daughter will be able to walk the streets, with her head held high, trick-or-treating in her neighborhood as Show White. We can linger at the houses and talk to our neighbors. In the end, it’s really not about Halloween, but about belonging somewhere that you can call your own.