Psychiatrist: So when did this Victoria phenomenon first begin?
Me: Well, I had been in a position where I was overworked, uninspired and I needed a break. Every-one at the publishing office were so focused on being perfect and although I worked really hard to get the job, it wasn't the satisfying forever after I had hoped for. I had been ill recently with a viral infection and felt as if it were my bodies way of crying for a change, so I decided to gamble. I decided to take a trip to an environment that I wasn't used to. I decided to spend a few months volunteering in a monks monestory in order to learn more about the mysteries of the world and about myself. I became strong from the labour work and trecking through nature and even some martial arts. I enjoyed it. I felt it was what I had needed. I had thought it was a blessing, but something changed when I returned home and it soon became something I could have never anticipated.
Initially I was ecstatic with my new found mental freedom. When I got home, I realised I didnt even like most of the clothes in my closet. They were either too suggestive or no longer made me feel comfortable. I began to realise how many of my past decisions were based on trends or on how others would view me. It was time to get a new wardrobe. One that reflected my new mindset. The new me. I fell inlove with flat boots as I had previously spent so much time in heels. After months of walking mostly barefoot with the monks, my feet welcomed more comfortable wear.
The laces and buckles often took some time to do up and my punctuation had plummeted back at work after aclimatising to a non-routene lifestyle, so I often ran into work late, dishevled and with my unzipped, unhooked boots sagging all over the place.
All my coworkers saw this new change in my dress and my disregard for things I once obsessed over. Some welcomed the new change. Others were confused, other still seemed to scoff at my new ways, seeing them as lazy and unusual.
Things began getting peculiar when I decided to die my hair. I decided to colour the underneath of the back of my hair in purple to bring a splash of colour to my honey blonde locks, but as I was parting my hair, I mistakingly managed to get the purple die in the ends of the front of the side of my hair. I decided to use that mistake as a strand test to see how the colour would come out. When I decided I didnt like how the colour turned out I looked for the honey blonde I usually keep for my roots and found it no where. I looked at myself in the mirror. What a tragic hairstyle. If this had happened a year before, I would have had a tantrum, maybe cried and looked to spend a good amount of money and time to get a professional to fix my bad DIY job, but this was a new me and as I looked back at a concerned expression I suddenly burst out laughing at the rediculous things we worry ourselves with in life.
I blow dried my hair and ate some popcorn as I watched the stars. I thought about what the wise monk had told me.
"When you get back to your life in the west, the world will no longer appear as it used to. The people will no longer appear as they used to. You will begin to see the oneness in all things."
I slept very well that night.
I woke up in the morning, took in a large breath of hope and looked over at my bedside clock. 9.:34am. Shite! Late again. I jumped out of bed and put on yesterdays clothes. I decided to put on a different scarf for a touch of varietyoots and made for the front door where I passed my flat mate Winston.
"Morning Jessica!" he greeted. I assumed he had been up late and was having a brain fart moment, as we had spoken on a number of occasions and he was very aware that my name is Vistoria.
"Goodmorning Peter", I smirked back at him, assuming it was enough for him to realise his mistake. I did not have the time for conversing.
When I finally arrived at work I was greeted at the door by Cameron. Cameron is the office gossip and is quite happy spending most of the day discussing other peoples business making him perfect for the gossip column, but also promotes dissharmony in the office. So I avoid him when I can.
"Oh my gosh", he began with his hands up in the air ready to divulge what he could about who he could, but he paused. "What happened to your hair?" "New look", I said attempting to keep it short and sweet, but he clearly had something to say standing infront of me to block my way. "Have you seen Kirsty today? She is totally copying you."
At first I became alarmed because I thought he was alluding to some sort of plaigarism beings writers for a magazine. "What do you mean? What is she copying?" I asked. "She is wearing her boots like yours today. All slacking and unzipped!" He said with conviction.
This is not what I expected to hear. First I relaxed and then I became confused.
"What? Your saying she copying the way I lazily wear my boots? I don't do this for trendy purposes..." I replied confused. "But she's copying you. See for yourself," he continued.
This was a little too weird for me to wrap my head around. Surely Cameron was just doing what he does best and trying to make something out of nothing and it was completely rediculous.
I didnt see Kirsty until later on that day when I approached the photocopying machine she was occupying. I had completely forgotten Camerons words until I saw her face expression at my approach. She looked like a rabbit caught in the headlights of some sort of fashion police.
"Oh...hi Vic." She said through guilty eyes. "I had no idea you were going to wear your boots like this today." I looked down at her boots, then at my boots and saw how they sagged the same and how the zips and laces were equally ignored. I suddenly became quite embarassed. How was I supposed to explain as her supervisor I only wore my boots like this because I had become highly disorganised and passive without seeming highly dissorganised and passive? So I just gave her a warm smile so that we could both relax and I changed the subject. I had never been considered a trend setter before, but our interaction gave me something to think about for the rest of the day. If anything I had at the time found it somewhat amusing, but in fact it was the beginning of the phenomenon.
The days following that incident many coworkers made remarks about my hair. They made fun of my mistake and I laughed with them. We had a good time at my expense, meanwhile Kirsty continued to sag her boots and I continued to disregard lacing mine, but in the week after coming into work, I noticed a couple women on the street seemed to have the misfortune of accidentily dying the front parts of their hair also, just as mine was. "What the hell is going on?" I thought. I felt like I was going a little crazy. Like I was seeing things, or worse. Thinking things.
I laughed out loud at this. No one in their right minds would think this is a good idea, surely. The chances of the same DIY accident happening to others other than myself in the same area was rediculous. I thought again about the wise monk and chuckled to myself about the mysteries of life.
When I had got into work though, I had stopped laughing. Sitting across the room from me was Jesse, who seemed to also have the same accidental dye job as me. Now I was curious, now I had to ask.
"You died your hair?" I asked her. "Yes I did, I was going for something a little different, do you like it?"
she replied clutching her hair. "Yes, I just couldnt help but notice its very much like mine" I said sweeping my hair behind my ears. "Oh I guess your right. How funny!" She said looking at me rather confused.
I decided to go to the bar that night. These recent events had to unsettle me, but I wasn't exactly sure why. What did this mean? As I sat by the window staring at the moon, a waitress approached me and asked if I wanted anything to drink.
"Yes, may I have a large house red wine please"
As she left with my order, the song Freebird began to play on the radio. I had listened to this song repeatedly before I had taken my trip to the monestary. I had become one of my favorites.
"Oh my gosh! This is my song!! I have such great memories with this song!" A young girl shouted behind me. "If I stay here with you girl..." she sang.
A waitress came back with a dye job that looked like she had dipped the front end of her hair in a bucket of colour. I hoped she wouldnt trip over her untied boots as she walked away. I guess the best place to be at this moment was home. I finished my wine before the solo kicked in and I left.
It was beginning to get cold so over the weekend I had decided to go shopping for a winter jacket. I couldnt find one that I liked so ended up picking one which was the lesser of three evils which would do a good job. Perhaps I hadnt noticed this before, but after emerging from the clothes store, it seemed like a third of the women I saw were wearing the same jacket. I found this rather annoying however understandable as I was making the concious effort not to follow trends. I had to travel that weekend, but snow was scheduled so as long as I kept the tags on, it could keep me warm for the weekend then I could return it and invest in a warm, but less popular jacket.
We were opening a new branch for our magazine in Edinborough and Jesse and I had agreed to meet at her place and travel together for the weekend. I knocked on her front door and waited for an answer. Nothing. Then I heard the gate swing open behind me.
"Oh hello, im looking for Jesse" I said to the man approaching. "Yes I live here", he replied and gave me an awkward look and then silence.
I decided to call Jesse who explained that she was standing outside my place in the freezing cold and thought we had arranged to meet there. I told her to ask Winston to let her in and she could wait in my room till I arrived. The train back to my place werent going to arrive for another hour or so. The gentlemen invited me in for a cup of tea so that I wouldnt freeze to death. When he turned on the lights, I noticed we were wearing the same jacket.
"Dude, are we wearing the same jacket?" I asked. He studied his jacket and then looked at mine. "I see you've been shopping in the mens section." he replied. We laughed this off, but within me it was just another 'coincidence' to tick off the crazy list.
As I sat down to drink my tea, a woman walked passed the window who looked remarkably similar to myself. My heart skipped a beat. I buried my face in the heat of my warm cup.
"You know the funniest things have happened to me recently. Its sounds silly im sure but its like everywhere I go people have the same things as me. My likes, my tastes, even my accidents." I began at the only other person in the room who seemed to just sit and take in what I was saying.
My phone vibrated. It was a messege from Jesse.
"I love your place, it's so unique, so special. I wish I were more like you." the messege read.
I continued telling my new listener how disorganised my mind had been and how I have felt out of sorts since returning from my trip.
"I also used to be really disorganised, with my mind all over the place. Jesse helped me become more organised. She's a good person. Maybe she can help you. Perhaps we should all be more like Jesse." He replied. I smiled at this and sipped my tea. Soon enough, everything turned dark and I did not wake up till the next morning.
When I awoke, initially I didnt recognise where I was, until I saw pictures of Jesse and began to panick. I couldnt have fallen sleep at her place. How could this have happened? Was I drugged? Did that man put something in my tea?
My heart began to race as I considered the implications of this sleepover. Where was Jesse? Was she still at my place? There was a knock on the door. I checked myself to make sure I was still decent. Luckily I still had my clothes on. I suspected the knock was from last nights host. Jesse's boyfriend?
"Um...come in." I cringed, preparing myself for an awkward conversation. When the door opened my heart stopped.
Standing in the doorway, staring back at me was a doppleganger of myself. The same likeness I had seen walking past the window the evening before. With a look mixed with curiosity and concern, she said
"Goodmorning, how are you feeling?"
I paused with my mouth hanging open, barely knowing what to say.
"Shocked...confused...Who are you and what are you doing here? Whats going on?" I stummered.
My doppleganger frowned at this. "I was hoping you might be feeling better". She replied.
"The minute life goes back to normal and you explain who you are, I will be feeling a whole lot better!" I persisted.
"Jesse! Im Peter. Your boyfriend?!" She said this as a question, like I should already know. Jesse? My dopplegenger continued."You have made many people concerned about you Jesse. Ever since you came back from the monestary, you have been accusing people of mimicking you, you have been calling me Winston and your personality has completely changed! I think you need to see someone!"
"What the hell are you talking about?!?!" Where is Jesse??" I began to raise my voice. I was quickly going from confused to angry. If this was some kind of a cruel joke, I was going to sue. I looked for my phone to search my messeges from Jesse.
"Victoria has filed a restraining order against you. You threw out all your old clothes and got a new wardrobe almost identical to hers when you got back. She said you even copied her hair dye job claiming it was an accident..."
My doppleganger continued, but my focus was on the messeges I recieved last night from Jesse as if it were my lifeline. I read the last messege. Messege from...Vicky??
"Vicky: Do not come to my place or I will call the police" the messege read.
No, how could this be? I tried to search for an explanation. How could this be?
"...and you've been walking around calling yourself Victoria! It's one thing to admire your friend. Its a completely nother situation when you stalk her life and try to be her." My doppleganger finished.
I began to gather my belongings to walk away from this nightmare. "What are you doing?" She asked. "Im going home," I said bluntly. "This is home Jessica. Im sorry to tell you this, but I had to call a few people to get you some help."
"MY NAME IS VICTORIA!!" I shouted now. I put on my ugly jacket and grabbed my bag. At that moment, a man and a woman came through the door wearing identicle ugly jackets to mine with saggy unzipped boots. They came in bearing handcuffs asking me if I would put them on for my own protection.
"Jessica please, just go with them. They are trying to help you". My doppleganger said.
I protested " Wait! What are you doing?? Please stop! My name is Victoria! There has been a huge missunderstanding! I dont even like this jacket!!" My please fell on deaf ears. No one tried to help.
Psychiatrist: Thats very interesting and you say this Phenomenon began after the trip?
Psychiatrist: Do you have a family history of mental illness?
Psychiatrist: Do you get into the habit of taking recreational drugs?
Psychiatrist: Thank you very much Jessica for your co-operation.
Me: My name is Victoria.
Psychiatrist: Ofcourse it is. I will be having a word with your personal GP and from there we will see what we can prescribe for you.
With that, my doppleganger psychiatrist and my two doppleganger security guards left the room.