It's Mardi Gras in Galveston and other places, but Galveston is where I live. It's common to go to a restaurant or the grocery store and see people laden with beads on their necks, sequined hats or painted faces. They are not themselves, or maybe they finally are and have been given permission to show their true colors.
It's fun for some of us to dress in costumes and be someone else for a while. Dickens on the Strand in December is much like that. People wear Victorian clothing and enjoy entertainment and food from another time. My family used to go every year, dressed to walk in the afternoon parade. It was fun, but we always enjoyed shucking the clothes to sit in our pajamas and drink hot chocolate.
My friend, Mark David Gibson, has written a memoir, Served in Silence. Mark is a retired U.S. Air Force Captain who writes about his experiences before, during, and after the military's Don't Ask, Don't Tell policy. He comes to terms with knowing that he is a better person and healthier contributor to society when he can be his authentic self. I'm looking forward to the release of this memoir later in March.
As a writer of fiction, I've noticed that most of my character's struggles result in their inability to live in their own truth. Josephine in the Sabine Series held a secret that kept her from living her authentic life. She plied herself with alcohol and neglected her children to shield herself from the pain she felt when she attempted to deny her childhood. In Opal's Story a tragedy results, effecting a family for decades because two family members were unable to live in their truth. In And the Day Came, historical fiction, a family attempts to keep a secret, believing they are shielding a child from hurt, when they actually keep her from having the one thing she always wanted. The Bright Shawl introduces Slade, a young man who discovers himself through a devastating loss, but in the process losses his family because they are unable to accept his truth. Lucy, in the Ember Months, faces her past while trying to understand the actions of a woman she thought would never die.
In my current novel, Birdie & Jude, the setting is Galveston Island and the time is prime for duchesses, balls, and pretending. However, Birdie Barnes is a tough cookie. In the 1960's she is an oddity for not wanting to participate in the social trappings of her parents. It changes her life, until she meets Jude. Will it be too late to discover herself at sixty-something?
Mark David Gibson can tell you what living and unauthentic life does to a real person. It's a struggle. My characters try to relay the information to me by whispering into my stories. Just like Mark, they can have a happy ending and be resilient. However, for the rest of this week, we can all wear a mask, beads and sequins to the grocery store and let the good times roll.