This past Halloween, I headed back east to see some friends and family. Although my main purpose was to see family, I decided to visit a drug treatment facility I worked at years ago in Somerville, Massachusetts, and with Salem within thirty minutes from where I was staying, I had to attend their Halloween event, which is called Salem’s Haunted Happenings. And, since I’d lived in the area for many years, it was always one of those, “I can do this next year,” and then never got around to it. So, I was determined to do it this year.
I was boring tourist though. No costume. I felt a bit like an outsider but there were plenty spectacular happenings to amaze me, and in no time I felt a part of the festival. The event was well organized and from what I could gather there were nearly 100,000 people attending – a lot of them in costume! It’s quite a show. To top it all off there was a spectacular fireworks display over the North River at 10:45 that lasted about 15-20 minutes. I don’t really remember how long, nor did I really care. It was fun.
I’ve been to many Halloween celebrations from Boston, New York, Chicago, and San Francisco, who all have great events, but Salem truly does it right. Public drinking is not tolerated nor do people get to bring in weapons – real or fake, the police confiscate them. Surveillance cameras are everywhere downtown, and in many ways, that made me feel a bit safer than I had recently in other big cities.
The next morning I headed to the drug treatment facility just to look at the building. Sounds kind of odd but I didn’t think anyone would still be working there from my days back in the 90’s. To my dismay, the building was gone. There was a building in its place, but it looked like an apartment building, possibly condominiums.
My formative professional years were in this drug treatment facility. I learned a lot about where drugs and alcohol could take people. From street drunks to people who honestly were looking for a better way of life without drugs and alcohol to executives mandated by their companies to get clean or lose their jobs, this facility offered help to people from all walks of life.
Sad as it was, it was clear that ‘going home’ sometimes isn’t what you think it’s going to be. Good or bad is irrelevant when it comes to stuff like this. What I continue to learn in this life is that it is fluid and it will continue with or without me. Humbling for sure.