Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Identity: It's Not Just For The Old

A week ago I told a friend of mine, recently made single, to employ pyjamas.

As ever, it is necessary for me to clarify my initial and borderline-surreal opening gambit. Don't knock it, this is how chat-up lines work, and work well.

"Take a weekend," I said, in a small and friendly pub that's just cliquey enough to be exclusive but no so much so as to be unsurvivable if you're new and prepared to smile and make an effort, "to lounge around in your pyjamas and rediscover who you are when you're alone." When you have somebody in your head for a long time you start to forget who you really are: you become half a couple and stop being a whole person, a necessary sacrifice for a long-term relationship (well, debatable this, but if you do it right you can get your investment back with interest) but a blow if it all goes wrong. For a period you live a parallel life, your real self in suspended animation while the ersatz demi-you carries on in your place, sure that it has won the race.

But, more often than not, demi-you loses that other half of itself and dissolves like a stale bagel in the rain. Then the real you has to take possession again, clear up the debris and try to remember who it was, or at any rate who it should have become while it was asleep. For this one needs a pyjama episode, to be properly alone for a bit, to move back into the vacant space left behind by the ersatz you and redecorate to your own taste. Once you've figured out what that is, of course.

One of my favourite movies at times like these, or indeed any time, is Ocean's Eleven, the Soderbergh remake. Danny Ocean is faced with this precise condundrum - he's freshly emerged from a prison sentence, the result of his wife leaving him, and needs to become his old self again. The whole film is essentially Danny's attempt to rediscover his identity, to reassert his previous self and bring it into the present day. To be reborn, like the eternally-renewed sun-gods of old, as himself.

I've been engaged in a similar exercise for a while (as regular readers will have ascertained by reading between the lines, or possibly by just reading the actual lines), which is why I now have a tattoo of a wolf on my forearm, a Blackberry Curve 9300 and a self-knitted cardigan, none of which existed a month ago. I don't wear pyjamas myself, but it's good to be me again.

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