Tomorrow's Labor Day. It's the day before i officially become one of the 'labor' - the kind that goes to an office every day at 10 am and stays there till about 8 pm, manages to do lots of things, all of which are totally mysterious. But, miraculously, they seem to be contributing to the GNP.
I have been a freelance writer for the better part of 4 years and before that, i have been a freelance assistant director for features, ad films, TV shows, etc. The word freelance is used a lot in my regular conversation, and when people ask me what i do, my usual response is, "I'm a (writer/director/actor/bartender) these days." They would give me a "you're so interesting" look, ask the basic questions to which i'd reply in my usual way ("yes, scripts.. screenplay.. films.. nothing you would have seen so far, it's all getting made... LOVELY weather we've been having, right??") we would laugh, and quickly we would move on to more tangible topics of conversation - like the latest war or Rupert Everett's sexy smile.
And i loved it. I lived in my favorite pair of jeans and sneakers, worked out of home which pretty much meant that i mastered flexitime, and couldn't be bothered about the impression i made on people so long as my work was impeccable. I would look down upon the "corporates" as people who barely saw anything beyond the four walls of their company, so completely imprisoned by who said what to whom, always huddled together in corners of bars talking about the skeletons in their bosses' or colleagues' closets, and who would laugh at jokes that weren't remotely funny. Me, I talked movies, and TV shows and knew what Mrs Jaya 'really' meant when she said something about Aishwarya. I could do what i wanted, when i wanted - i was the queen and mistress of all i surveyed - my time was truly my own, and a mid-afternoon movie mid-week wasn't a luxury. And someone was paying me to tell stories! Life couldn't get better.
Until i realised that there was a great price to pay for this exciting and volatile life. Somewhere in the vicinity of 700,000 bucks, to be precise, over the last 2 years. I was broke. Despite all the work i was doing, i wasn't seeing the paychecks i had earned. Producers just conveniently didn't take calls, IPR was just another meaningless collection of letters and 'the check is in the mail' was the cruel joke and it was on me.
So i capitulated. A job came along and someone put his faith in me. I took it up, promising to join from the first of May. All my friends congratulated me on a new life, new steps and new adventures (come on! How adventurous is going to work at an office after all?). I smile at them all, and yet i sense the underlying judgement that sounds something like "sellout." Or maybe that's just me. From being a bohemian raphsody, supremely arrogant of her choices, i have quickly morphed into someone who peddles her 'creativity' (probably non-existent) for the benefit of a faceless corporation.
And here i am, looking back on my ex-life with something that resembles nostalgia and a slight bitterness. Like looking from the outside in and wondering what went wrong. But more than that, i'm terrified that this new life, with its unique code of conduct, dress and language which will just strip me bare and expose that fact that i'm NOT creative, couldn't lead a team to save anyone's life and that i'm totally unemployable after all.
But atleast for a few months it'll be easier to introduce myself. "Hi, i'm Searcher, creative head, So and So company." That sounds allright then. But the big question remains - what do i wear??