Monday, July 21, 2008

My Anonymous Life

You may have noticed that the title of this essay is "My Anonymous Life." I wanted to entitle it "My So Called Life" after the TV show that I found so meaningful and relevant, but I decided that I did not want to be cited for plagiarism, so I rethought the title. Yes, "my anonymous life" works well because, in essence, it describes my life. I live my life invisibly and to my surprise I find that I actually prefer it that way.
I am not the kind of person who turns heads. Rather, I often enter a venue completely unnoticed. For me, that is a good thing. I prefer to fly completely under the radar, allowing myself every opportunity to observe the comings and goings of others without being detected. Sometimes I play mind games, pretending I'm an international spy: "Aha! I spent the entire evening at the party, gathering data, and no one even noticed that I was there!" A major coup, I think, to come and go anonymously. At other times, I might imagine that others see me as completely evil or demented and keep their distance accordingly. Yes, they are intimated by the unknown and unspoken; who wouldn't be? I can, after all, spend an entire evening in complete silence, adding to the mystery of myself.
Besides my quiet stealth, I have one of those faces that tends to be generic and kind of universal. You have no idea how many people have asked whether or not they know me from...well, somewhere. But no, I didn't work here or there or go to the same Ivy League school; I'm just chameleon-like, blending into the particular surroudings in which I find myself.
Perhaps others would be disturbed by the lack of attention, but in many ways I thrive on it. With it comes a certain freedom to just be. I can come and go at will and there is nothing anyone can really do about it. For example, in my volunteer position, I used to ask permission if I needed to leave early. But now I just get up and walk out. What can they do? Imagine the conversation: "Where is that woman who usually sits here? Where did she go?" "Who?" "You know, the woman who usually answers this know, what's her name?" "Um...I don't know; what IS her name?" Well, what can they do after all? They don't even know my name, lest my phone number, so they can't exactly call me and ask me not to come in. It's great! But it wouldn't be possible except for my anonymity.
Some days I think I might like to be noticed, maybe even well-known in my own right. But I don't think I could handle the stress of fame,with its endless expectations and speculation. It would be difficult to always be recognized, perhaps admired, and chased by the paparazzi. How could I throw my hair in a ponytail and venture out in my tie-died shirt and denim jeans without finding my picture in the tabloids under the headline "Stars Without Make-up" or "Blackwell Names Worst Dressed?" No, celebrity is not for me. But anonymity? Well, for a people watcher who enjoys conjuring fantasies to match the faces that I discover, it can't be beat. Watching people, unnoticed, is what I do. And it is wonderful that my invisibility offers them the freedom to be themselves. Celebrity may open doors and bring a certain connected-ness and power. But anonymity brings a freedom to be that is priceless.



Tao Master said...

Very good writing. I have a question though - well actually a lot of questions. First, I make an observation - you are a celebrity in my world - I was quite dazzled to see you slumming in your tie dye shirt when you came to the art fair. Second, your writing takes you out of the chameleon mode because you share your thoughts with us the readers. I am honored to be one of your readers. Does this make writing harder for you, knowing that you have to come out of the anonymous or does it free you even more to know that you can share your thoughts and still be anonymous ? I like essays that make me think and yours does. Bravo!!
If you are still reading this, I want to ask you one moere thing - what are your 3 or 4 best writings ?
I would like you to send them to me so I can put together a little booklet - working title Creative Writing: the first year. Also include what the class meant to you.
Keep Writing,

Lin said...

Interesting perspective on the "True Diane" and it was a good one! Now I'll be wondering what your mind is up to when you are quiet in class! :)

What's the scoop on the new baby? Details! We want details!!

butterfly woman said...

Great story. Wonderful for the writer's up and coming book. I could so relate to the anonymous life in myself as I seek to emerge from my cocoon. Sometimes it feels good to participate in the world, othertimes I like to observe from a distance. I suppose as long as it helps us to grow. We all have so much to offer with our gifts, glad you are sharing you. And I truly enjoyed seeing you at art fair, one of the highlights of the day.