I was born in May, as was pretty much everyone else I know. My friend's mum says the reason is that bored couples only have sex on holidays. I don't know any details of my birth. I can't remember and my family doesn't talk about stuff. My brother was 2 when I was born. He hadn't spoken by then. In fact, he never spoke a single word until he was about four. They all thought he was autistic or deaf. Then one day someone tried to feed him eggs for lunch and he said "I don't like eggs". He'd just been waiting until he had something important to say. Unlike me. I spoke before they'd cut the cord and didn't learn to shut up until very recently.
My dad worked abroad and mum was left alone with us in a strange city. She suffered from post natal depression and had no-one except the kids to distract her. Her mum had died when she was 8 and she never got over it but only because nobody had ever let her talk about it. And her dad died not long after I was born. Actually, when her mum died the four kids got taken by her dad to live with his three brothers. So mum had had four daddies to make up the mum front. But they'd all died by the time I came along.
There were no men at my christening, apart from the priest and my big brother. I was afraid of men. I used to hide from them when required (which was whenever there was one about). My memories from that city are these:
1. My dad blowing up a green balloon and letting it go and our dog chasing it round the room. (my dad is comic genius).
2. Feeding the ducks from a bridge with a mystery old lady.
3. Untying my brother's parrot shaped helium balloon from the garage door and watching it getting tangled up in tree branches. so impressed: a parrot, in a tree.
4. Taking over from the orange chopping when my mum went to answer the phone and hacking up my left hand.
5. Flying down the back hill on a scooter shouting "daddy will like me!" and landing at the bottom with my feet jammed in a fence.
We left that city when I was almost 4. I took from there an obsession with massive ships and misty weather.
From there we moved to a tiny village far away. It was so small that my teacher was also my mum's best friend, my best friend's aunty, my RE instructor, my babysitter and our lodger who lived above the garage. It is from this point on that I have any real idea of what I, or my life, was like.
Up until I was about fourteen I think I thought I was a boy. I hated girls because they say things they don't think and think things they don't say. I find that frightening.
Although I talk a lot, I hate loud people and shouting. In fact I love quiet. I used to hide in small dark places (shoe cupboards, coal shed etc) and sit there for hours. Apparently even when I was really small and not allowed out of my mum's sight I'd sit for up to a couple of hours deathly still with a towel over my head. It made her laugh. Until she couldn't find me because I was holed away in some small dark crevasse and thought I'd been abducted by the bad men for sinister purposes. Then it made her mad/sad.
My dad doesn't really feature in actual memories that much which is strange because he was about for almost half the time. But he was just a mythical figure who told me outrageous lies/stories that I'd always believe and played the guitar. I saw my mum as a tyrant who was always trying to shit on my parade. Nowadays the roles are reversed, except my mum doesn't play the guitar or lie.
Anyway, I was good in school and liked to draw. There were only four of us in our class so through circumstance we were all best friends. But I hated two of them. It's funny when you're small that you hate your best friends. Anyway, the real best friend was Paul. He had dark hair and his eyes watered all the time. I knew his family were poor but secretly I never agreed with this because I didn't have any stuff even though we weren't poor and he had all the Thundercats figures, an Atari computer console AND Sky TV.(if you couldn't see the glow of Paul's telly through the window there was no point knocking on his door because there was definitely nobody in). So I suspected they were secretly rich. Paul's mum was young and wore skintight stonewash jeans and smoked constantly. One April 1st, Paul and me individually snapped every single one of his mum's 200 cigarettes. She didn't laugh. Paul's dad was beautiful. I got a the Popstar Paul doll one day (Popstar Cindy's boyfriend/lover/life partner) and he looked just like him. Had an earring in the same place and was called Paul too so it couldn't have been a coincidence. Paul and I used to go swimming in rivers all the time and then hang around in the woodies and try to catch older kids smoking. When we got a bit older he tried to hang around with boys and I tried to hang around with girls because we thought we should. It didn't work out. In secret he played Barbies with me but only on the condition that he would be Ken and I wouldn't tell anyone. And in return I let him be Donatello and Michelangelo when we played Ninja Turtles and Maverick when we played Top Gun. He was also the only one that got pocket money so when he'd buy us a chocolate bar with it, he'd get two pieces for my one. It seemed fair. This counting out of chocolate was done on a plank of wood that was nailed to a tree branch. We called it a tree hut. I haven't seen him in twelve years but I found him on MySpace a couple of months ago. I didn't add him.
When I was ten we moved to a bigger town, my mum and dad's hometown. I hated them for it. But they bought us off with a dog which helped to ease the pain.
I started at a Catholic school there. We had to pray at least four times a day and weren't allowed to wear shoes indoors. There were too many people at this new school and boys and girls didn't play together. So suddenly I had to catch up on six years of girl politics. My friends ended up being the popular group, although I was just the token fat girl. My arrival edged out their original token fat girl (everyone knows there can't be more than one) but I didn't feel guilty. I needed friends more than she did. There was a tree behind the school that we called the rocket. Every day we'd sit on the branches and talk about our prepubescent notions of sex. We'd also go to choir practise twice a week. We all hated it but were too scared to leave. And sometimes in the summer we'd still swim in rivers. River swimming has been pretty consistent throughout my life actually. Except when we were very young we'd cycle there, when we got a bit older we'd hitchhike there and not tell our mums, and now we have cars and independence we drive there and don't even need to tell anyone where we're going.
When we went to high school things changed. We all started drifting apart. I started smoking and only hung around with smokers. My whole friend-base was made up of kids that I'd met behind the bus shelter, bike shed or public toilets. My brother would buy them for us, a pack between two, and would tax us three cigarettes for the service.
One of the other girls became a slut. Statistically it was bound to happen. She always wore a scarf to cover her lovebites. One day she came in and told us how she'd had anal sex. She said it was like having a shit but more painful. She was 12. Another time she told us her uncle had given her an abortion with a spoon on his kitchen table. We didn't believe her so decided to not be her friend anymore.
Another one of the girls became popular and talked like Rachel from friends all the time. She drew lovehearts instead of dots over her 'I's. I hated her but secretly wanted to be her.
And the last girl was Rachel Green girl's best friend until she got accused of stealing by the school bitch and nobody wanted her anymore. So then she started smoking with me and we became best friends. That's still the way it is.
Except she doesn't smoke anymore and I do. IMe and her did everything together. We made new friends together and ditched them together. We had our first bongs during the winter Olympics in 1998. I remember this because I went home after and watched figure skating for about 6 hours.
When I was 13 I broke a chair in my English class in front of everyone.
They already thought I was a geek. Now I was a geek who was too heavy for standard classroom furniture.
We became friends with a new girl that moved up from London when we were 14. She was amazing (I get too obsessed with people- that is my biggest flaw). She taught us how to steal make up, wear slutty clothes, stay out all night and convince people that we were older than we actually were. Her parents didn't love her nearly enough so she split her time between trying to get their attention and finding love elsewhere. Which was why they sent her from London to live with her granny. I loved our little group. Although I was still the fat friend, I was a fat friend with a raison d'être.
When I was 15, ten of us rented a house for a week, there was a festival on. I spent the whole time with a friend's 35 year old uncle's married friend. He tried to kiss me only once when we were in bed and making up the entire history of amber. I laughed and said he was too old and hairy for me and he never brought it up again. Instead we just told each other stories, danced, held hands and spooned at night. I met him a year later and he was embarrassed and apologetic. I didn't understand why at the time but I do now.
When we were 16 my London friend got expelled from school. She was smarter than all of us but also looked older and wore revealing clothes. So one day when a teacher tried to feel her up she got chucked out for showing him what she thought of him. I remember the day she left, screaming "fuck you, you fucking prick" all the way down the corridor to the front door. She never even tried to make any complaints or come back and, because they didn't love her enough, her parents didn't try either. Then she ran away and moved in with her boyfriend, we never really saw her after that.
When I was seventeen my best friend's little brother hanged himself from the beam in their garage. Nobody understands why. He was the cheeky one. He'd made it so the rope was long enough for his feet to touch the ground but he slipped and his neck broke. He died instantly. He was only 14. The last time I saw him was three days before. I'd just passed my driving test and had come up to surprise my friend and take her for a drive. I think how he never got far enough into it all to pass his driving test. Or do much else. So then I think how lucky I am to have made it this far. He would've been really good looking. His 18th birthday would've been on a Saturday, which would've been convenient. Before going to university, I worked for two years. I worked as a tour guide and hated every single day. I had to wear a stupid outfit and when the cook didn't turn up I had to run the kitchen. There I learned to love cooking, which is now my favourite thing to do. All my friends left for the cities in that time, so I had no friends. My favourite people were two men in their sixties who drove the delivery vans. I smoked with them and sometimes I sang to them so they'd know what song I was talking about. They never did. One of them had a son who I obsessed over. Then one day he came up to me in a bar. He said "I like you, you're different". And I had to give him that, I was different. He said "You've got beautiful eyes. And mouth too. You have a beautiful mouth." I looked at him and screwed up my face and said "Even when I do this?" And he said, "No, not really. But still a little bit." A year later his dad was out walking on a mountain and died from falling off a cliff. I never went to his funeral because I thought it wasn't my place to. I regret that now.
I got a job in a bar too. It was full of old men who drank the same drink night after night and bitterly resented anyone who sat in their seats. One of them took me fishing once. He caught a huge fish and pretended to everyone it was me, the girl, the novice, who caught it. Everyone was so impressed. Some people were annoyed. One man called me Champ after that. He made me keep a photo of the fish behind the bar to show unbelievers. That same man died this summer. I went to see him in hospital. His eyes and skin were the colour of American mustard. He'd been cold that day so someone had given him a big jumper. It too was the colour of American mustard. It was funny and terrible at the same time. When I left he said it had been nice meeting me. So I said it was nice to meet him too, and that I was sure I'd see him again. He died when I was on holiday so I never went to his funeral either.
I also worked in an office for a while. I made it my mission to find secret places to hide and sleep all the time. I will never work in an office again. I hate wearing proper shoes.
I went to college when I was eighteen to do this course that promised to get me into real life art school. I wanted to do art because I didn't believe I could do it. I had to move to a big city and live in a high rise flat with the dumbest girl that was ever born who only ate meat and a world hating goth who only ate sweeties. The course did what it promised to do but by the end I didn't know if I wanted to go to art school because I'd hated it so much. But turns out it was nothing like art school is and I'm glad i didn't do maths. That year I lost 60 lbs. I told people it's because I was healthy and watched my weight. Actually it was because I lost control of everything and needed to be in charge of something. So every morning I had an apple and in the evening I had a 9 pence pack of noodles and a piece of toast. Sometimes I'd have an egg poached in the noodles too. I slept most of the time then and looked like shit. But at least I wasn't fat anymore. I also discovered the joy of recreational drugs that year. One night I went out with my brother for some dancing. But the drugs went bad and everyone moved out of my way everywhere I went. Like my own parting of the red sea. Then I sat outside and had a smoking epiphany, best cigarette of my life. My brother came out and found me and said no matter what bad things you've done, you're allowed to ask for help. And he offered to call an ambulance but I said no. Then we said our first and possibly last "I love yous" before going back in. The night got much better after that. The year after that I went to art school in another city. I was 19. I started making videos and stopped drawing. When I was 22 I started drawing again. Twenty two was a pretty big year. It's my best number (two little ducks) so I expected fun things. Instead I got broken down and had to start again. Now I'm 23 and things are pretty good. I stopped dreaming and lusting for a while but they came back at the same time, like my lust and my imagination were away having their own private party. It's difficult to say any more. It's like the thing about not knowing what an elephant is when you're standing too close to it. it just appears to be a bit of grey leather. But things are looking promising. Onwards and upwards.