On Halloween, even if they don't actually venture out amidst the throngs, Castro residents are part of the hullaballoo, if only because it's impossible not to be. People pack the streets. The noise and crowds spread for blocks. Things don't truly calm down until some point well past midnight.

But that's not really a complaint. Although the group of boys dressed as Jem and the Holograms last year did get the Jem theme song stuck in my head (yes, that is as painful as it sounds), I was amused by their antics outside my bedroom window late last Halloween, and couldn't even think of holding a grudge. More than anything else, the revelry in the Castro just seemed invigorating.

On November 1 last year, I dragged my tired self into the office and wrote this in an email:

'Unable to fall asleep last night because of the parade of cars and people past my window, I lay in bed and thought about what this year has brought, and what's still ahead in the next few months. And I know I say this in some form or other every other week, but when I finally did drift into sleep, I was left with a feeling of utter contentment and quiet promise.'

Reading that (not to mention everything else from last November) now sort of breaks my heart all over again. What I wouldn't give for the ability to fall asleep late tonight with even a fraction of that contentment, or a hint of that promise.