Monday, March 08, 2004

Things have calmed down a teeny bit in my Bruce Wayne existence, so I've had a couple of opportunities to slip back into the batsuit for the first few times in months and months. And it has felt ... good. Not earth-shattering, but comfortable, a welcome return home all the same.

On one such occasion, my partner and I played out a bat-scene of the kind we haven't done in ages (this time it was me as caped crusader, him as dastardly villain). In the midst of it, I felt myself being very aware of my mask, both the feel of it brushing against my cheeks and forehead, and the mental image of me wearing it in front of somebody else. He's seen me it many times, but for some reason this time I felt naked in it, exposed--as if I was unmasked at last and the bat-cowl was my true face.

By coincidence (or not?), I've felt similar sensations in dreams lately: sort of like the classic one in which you go to school naked, or find yourself in some public situation wearing nothing but your underwear. Only in my case, the costume was the private self I was showing to the world, either by accident or design. Caught up in the moment, I can't tell whether I'd intended to reveal this secret self to onlookers or not. My hunch is the former: that I've set out to expose more of my true self to others, and then been caught in a flash of doubt and second thoughts. In the dream I want to retreat, to hide myself, but it's too late. There is no turning back.

In waking life, I really have been a bit more public lately. Not so much about my bat-fantasies, but about other aspects of myself. In various ways I've left my comfortable circle of friends and my familiar work environment, and it still feels a bit new and scary.

The bat-costume is a perfect metaphor for that dance of advance and retreat: it conceals the wearer's "true identity," but in wearing it he assumes--pretty much announces to the world--a whole new identity, too.

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