My first glimpse of truth was at a costume party. He took me to her house for the event, and the two of them enjoyed shots with neighbors and work pals while her husband and I watched them like they were our errant children, laughing about how they couldn’t hold their liquor and wouldn’t make it through the whole party. I’d planned to go as Poppy, the happy-go-lucky girl from the movie Trolls, but at the last minute decided instead to wear a costume I’d purchased for an office event. I was Alice, from Alice in Wonderland, in a big blue dress, properly pressed apron, and a little purse that looked like a clock.
There are dozens of theories about what all the fantasy in Alice in Wonderland really means, but I think almost everyone would agree that at least in some way it’s a story about the loss of innocence. And at the center of that story is innocent Alice – polite, sometimes snarky, trusting, with a little bit of a temper. One of the many supporting roles in Alice’s story is The White Rabbit, the character that leads her deep into a rabbit hole to a fantasy land. The White Rabbit is the character that leads Alice to awareness. The White Rabbit is the character that leads Alice to truth.
Some would say that The White Rabbit is a counter for Alice. The initial persona of a happy, carefree character fades and The White Rabbit’s overwrought and desperate self becomes visible. The neurotic character is a counter to Alice’s calm. Lack of composure counters her purpose. Alice is curious about The White Rabbit, and as Alice says, “curiosity often leads to trouble.”
The party was filled with happy people, all dressed up for fun. Neighbors and friends dressed as doctors and clowns and such. He was Batman – the costume of a character that lives two lives, who lost the most important people to him in his childhood and who fights to help others not suffer the same loss of family.
One of the funniest details in this wonderland/party story is that two people who hadn’t spoken to each other about costumes before that event were both dressed as characters from Alice in Wonderland. Me as Alice, with my proper white tights and Mary Janes. Her as an adult steampunky version of The White Rabbit, with bunny ears, leather short-shorts, and black fishnet stockings. It was so funny that people took our picture together – two characters from the same story, a contrast of light and dark. There might actually be more irony in our choice of costumes for that night than in all of Lewis Carroll’s writing.
Did The White Rabbit invite Alice into the rabbit hole and to the party in hopes Alice would see some truth? Perhaps to force the hand of all the players in wonderland? There’s no question what the outcome would be once everyone was exposed to truth. Or did The White Rabbit invite Alice into the rabbit hole and to the party because games were just part of the fun and thrill? In the big scheme of things, The White Rabbit’s motives are not important. The more important question was why Batman would take Alice to The White Rabbit’s house for a party.
I used was because it doesn’t matter anymore. I don’t care why people behaved the way they did, and even more than that I don’t believe in coincidences. I believe in divine intervention. Sometimes the seemingly awful things that happen to us end up being our salvation from things that will really harm us. And there are messages and lessons for us not just in what happened, but also in our surroundings at and in the details of those events.
Here’s the thing about Alice and The White Rabbit. In the end, after all the chaos and confusion, The White Rabbit is just a noisy trumpeter that’s a slave to others in a world of fantasy. But Alice…Alice separates herself and she runs away from all the dysfunction. Alice looks at that screaming mob that’s yelling at her and railing at her, and Alice focuses on the calm guidance of a doorway to peace – and then she wakes herself up.
I threw away my Alice costume long ago. I didn’t want the reminder of such a horrible night hanging in my house. I regret that. I likely would never have worn it again, but that Alice costume is a symbol of so much more. It’s a reminder that Alice knows what is real and what is not. It’s a reminder that Alice chose peace over chaos. It’s a reminder that Alice saved herself.
Alice saved herself.