Tuesday, March 16, 2010

The Veil of Illusion

Sometimes I want to be invisible.

A few years ago I noticed it. It was a Sunday, and I wanted to go to the dance club I've been frequenting for twelve years now. I haven't gotten to know many people there in twelve years, but I've gotten to know a few. When I really cherish a place, I usually don't want to know many people there. I guess it's too sticky. I guess I don't find other people in my freedom.

I wanted to go and dance, but I felt a violent reaction in my body at the thought of having to talk to anyone. The thought of a nameless mass of people surrounding me didn't bother me. Sometimes it's easiest to be alone in the middle of a people who are all paying attention to something other than you. It was the thought that I'd run into someone I knew and have to interact or risk them thinking me strange or a bitch that paralyzed me. I thought, "I could wear a veil! A huge black veil coming down off a hat, covering me to my hips!"

Sometimes I wish I could wear a burqa. I wish I could wear a burqa to work, to the store, around my house when I don't live alone.

I want to be able to slip through the world unseen, free from everyone's watchful eyes and their judgments. It seems that everyone has an opinion about some aspect of who I am. I don't mind that people have opinions. I just wish they wouldn't share so freely sometimes or act as if their affections were so tied to my ability to adhere to a certain set of superficial standards. If I want to stay up all night eating candy, does that mean you have to subtly threaten to leave me?

I know this is just how it feels. It feels like there is all this pressure. It feels like there is this choice to be made. I can't decide if this is just an illusion or something I have to learn to live with. I hear so many different things about the way the world works, and when I've tested each of them they only seem to be true to a point. I am told that I am the one who is too hard on me. "She would not go into company because of the ill-at-ease feeling other people brought upon her. And she never could decide whether it were her fault or theirs. She half respected these other people, and continuous disillusion maddened her. She wanted to respect them. Still, she thought the people she did not know were wonderful. Those she knew seemed always to be limiting her, tying her up in little falsities that irritated her beyond bearing. She would rather stay at home and avoid the rest of the world, leaving it illusory."

This passage from Lawrence's The Rainbow reminds me of when I moved in high school. I was 16. I complained because that is what you do when you are 16. I complained because I was given the subtle impression that I would be perceived as an unfeeling person if I didn't. Even with my feigned complaining I ended up getting a lecture from my brother because I didn't miss my friends enough. But secretly I was elated. I was happy to be leaving what I saw as the confines of the people I'd known since I was a very little girl. I felt free, like I'd been limited by supposedly being known as a certain kind of person and could now be any kind of person I wanted. I immediately cut my hair. It was as if I'd felt I'd had to respond to what was expected of me because no one would believe otherwise.

This is why sometimes I want to be invisible, wear a veil, don a burqa. Because even though just yesterday a friend pointed out that I have always done what I wanted, others be damned, sometimes it gets tiring feeling as if those are two opposing forces--myself and others. And since I cannot make others stop putting their expectations on me, I guess my only option is to cease to exist.

At least in theory.

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