Many of you probably know, or have caught vague mention here and there on the blog, that I have an alter ego who exists Monday through Friday, 9:00 to 5:00 (or slightly beyond). She’s an office drone, typical as they go. Conservative clothes, sensible shoes, and, aside from a practiced laugh for awkward encounters she’s prone to, basically my opposite in every way. She’s an embarrassing little secret that I don’t often talk about here. However, today will be a bit of a reveal. Silly even to call it that, as the subject matter is by nature anticlimactic, but I’ve nonetheless built it up now so here goes:
In my other, office life I work in administration at a hospital.
I only bring it up now because of a strange experience last week. I was clicking through Refinery29 when I was suddenly faced with a clash of identities. It’s not a completely uncommon experience, given my situation; however, this was not marked by the usual vague dizziness and stomach turning of worlds colliding. This, in fact, gave a sense of satisfaction like the brief, knowing glance between friends who share a secret.
The piece that brought on my current reflections is this:
The Silver Coming and Going Hospital Bracelet by Cast of Vices, available at Oak.
To the designers, the piece may be symbolic of modern addiction, pop culture junkies, a self-medicated generation suffering existential ennui – but to me it is a sign of another condition… American Identity: You are what you do.
When I left the fashion and beauty industry three years ago to take a “responsible” job, the decision was not made without internal turmoil. I feared becoming one of the indistinguishable masses of young professionals invading pubs at happy hour in ill-fitting blazers or clomping about the city in Dansco clogs.
At the time H&M was selling a hospital bracelet – plastic or pleather maybe, but really little more than laminated paper. It filled me instantly with a sense of solidarity – to what, I wasn’t certain, but I bought two and wore one after another straight through until they dissolved.
I realize now that it was solidarity within myself. To some my dual life may seem borderline schizophrenic, but for all my OCD, ADD and various neuroses, I have resisted a chasm in my identity. I am still a creative, an eccentric, a writer and a fashion fiend, and no day job is changing that.