I started working from home in 2020. I don't remember why. Something something social distancing. Hard to recall events that long ago.
By 2021, a lot of my law firm had started going back into the office. To my surprise, I didn't really want to return.
I always thought I would hate working from home. In 2011 I lived with my uncle just a few blocks away from my current house and he worked from home. I pitied him. "What a sad and lonely life he leads," I thought as I watched him cozy up to his laptop in his PJs, his dogs curled around his legs, the scent of blueberry muffins wafting from the oven. I'd think this as I climbed into my car to drive to an office I wasn't allowed to leave for eight hours where I'd constantly breathe the fumes of stale coffee.
Then, suddenly, it was Unprecedented Times, and I found myself missing nearly nothing about office life. I was more productive because I wanted to get work done more quickly since there were many wonderful things to do at home. Like play with the dogs and watch TV and admire myself in the mirror and see what it would look like if I tried on all of my favorite outfits inside out. The usual stuff.
So I never really went back to the office. Sure, I'd pop in from time to time to pick up my mail and say hello to friends, but by the beginning of 2022, I was probably spending less than 3 hours per week there.
That transition to home life was liberating and fulfilling and absolutely sloppy.
Guys. I had no idea my capacity for slobery was so great. I don't know if that's a real word. Spellcheck says it's not. I'm too big of a slob to go back and delete it.
Suddenly I found myself wearing the same thing pretty much every day—a black shirt and pajama bottoms, which I had slept in. Coffee mugs with dried black stains strewn around my work area. Knitting supplies piled on the floor next to my chair in case I needed a helpful distraction during the next zoom deposition or hearing.
"Oh!" I remember Skylar saying when he came home from a shift at the hospital in November 2021. "You put on pants today!" It was so encouraging, the way he said it, like his expectations for my own self care and presentation were six feet beneath the floor and I had blown them out of the water by performing one simple adult function. I didn't have the heart to tell him this was only because someone had come to the door and I didn't want them to see me in flannel pajama bottoms at 3:45 in the afternoon.
Even when I did go to the office, I wasn't really trying anymore. The same black t-shirt I had slept in. My hair sticking up in the back from the imprint of a pillow. During my last week at the firm I walked by a legal assistant who said, "are you wearing track pants?"
I reached down and felt the side of my leg to confirm. "Huh," I said. "I don't even know where I got these." And then I walked away, my flipflops slapping against the bottoms of my feet as I retreated down the hallway of the 19th floor in this highly pretentious downtown high-rise.
I've completely lost my reference point for proper dressing. "You obviously can't wear that," Skylar told me in June when he saw me packing a bag for a wedding we had to go to in Massachusetts.
"What's wrong with this?" I asked him, genuine confusion in my voice.
"First of all, those are shorts," he said.
I reminded him that this was an outdoor wedding and I was dressing accordingly. Fortunately he intervened and packed for me. I had to admit later it would have been very embarrassing to wear shorts and a t-shirt to a wedding where everyone else was in suits, including, by the way, John Kerry, who happened to be the uncle of the bride. I accidentally called him "honey" while grabbing his arm, a bit tipsy, near the wedding bar. I'm probably on an FBI list now.
I started my new job with a huge tech company just three weeks ago. I work from home 100% now. There isn't even an office for me to stop in to gather mail.
"It's a new job," I thought. "Time to make a good impression!"
So on my first day I woke up early. I showered and blow-dried my hair. I trimmed my nails, engaged in an aggressive face moisturizing routine, and ironed a slimming button-up shirt that was significantly tighter than the last time I had worn it in 2019.
Guys. I flossed.
I took my seat at my chair at my home office desk at 7:00 AM. It had been cleaned and cleared of all dishes and knitting supplies. Sleek. Spotless. An empty slate for my professionalism.
I powered up my laptop and joined a meeting with a new colleague on the east coast.
"Hey," she muttered as her camera was turned on.
Her hair was pinned up. She had bags under her eyes. The pillows, visible behind her back, indicated she was sitting on her bed.
"Yeah, I'm gonna give you some advice," she continued. "We're really casual around here. You don't need to dress up for stuff like this."
~It Just Gets Stranger