Tuesday, May 31, 2011

With Veil? Or: I'm Not My Alter Ego.

When asked to name my favorite or best anything, I never can. My appetites vary with the situation, so the song or dessert or vacation spot I adore at the moment isn't likely to top the list later on. I certainly can't pinpoint the best day of my life. But there is a day that I acted out of character and loved it. It's without a doubt my favorite version of myself, if there is such a thing. An alter ego that emerged because I was wearing a veil at a bar.

My bachelorette party was terrific. An evening of crazy fun with a great group of ladies. At the last stop of the evening, a bar in downtown San Jose, my bridesmaids presented me with a list of tasks I had to complete before the night was through. Nothing too outrageous, but definitely not the sort of thing I'd usually be up for. As talkative as I can be I'm not all that bold or confident with strangers, especially in the see-and-be-seen atmosphere of a bar. Suddenly I'm a insecure teen all over again, hoping to staying invisible and get through the night unscathed.

That night, though, something clicked. This was my bachelorette party. I had on a veil. People's opinions of me were irrelevant. That white piece of tulle was a license to behave however I wanted. I marched up to guys and demanded shots. I enlisted the bartender to help procure items on the list. No one refused me. Everyone smiled and seemed happy to help. I was completely empowered and loving it. My friends were shocked at how fearlessly I attacked the list. I was shocked myself. Within an hour they were scrambling to create another list with tougher challenges. No sweat for this party girl.

It was a revelation to see how naturally people responded to confidence. And it had been so easy. Despite my tendency to play the wallflower I'm not exactly shy. The night hadn't been just bravado. I felt as bold as I had acted. This is it, I thought. This is how I'm going to interact in the world. As if strangers were happy to talk to me. As if no one would think of refusing me. As if there was a veil on my head every day.

And of course, it never happened again.

I went right back to being the person I was before. Unsure in new situations. Reluctant to take charge. Worried about what people might think of me. We expect an eye-opening experience to forever change us. But soon enough we are back in our routine. The dreams of taking up painting again after seeing the masterpieces in the Louvre or promises to live each day fully after losing a friend too soon, these fall aside as the rhythms of our days settle back into what we've established. The current of our everyday lives has more pull than the soul-stirring moments we imagine will reshape who we are.

Still, we're not untouched by our experiences. My veiled alter ego wasn't invented. She emerged. And sure, she was lots of fun, but I'm not all that certain she's the person I want to be. That's probably why I didn't transform after that amazing night. But she's in there, and she can come out again. All I have to do is let her. 


  1. I get this way when I hit that 'sweet spot' of a bit drunk but not so drunk that I'm dumb. I am just suddenly totally confident that I am an interesting person with a sparkling personality who can talk to anyone.

    I also find that, in certain situations, I get like that when I'm in unfamiliar surroundings when I need help. It's like I realize that I really do need to be confident and fix something for myself and, suddenly, I man up and can do it. It's nice.

  2. wow! very nice writing angela!

    - farnaz

  3. Dear Angie I hope to read more of your mullings and thoughts that are inside you. I enjoyed reading this. Esther