Old Flames

 

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Last Saturday was Blast from the Past Day, it seems as not only did I bump into an old friend I hadn’t seen for at least a decade, I then got a message from my college crush, who I haven’t seen for closer to twenty.

Seeing my friend was good, easy and a happy surprise. She has twins now. They’re sweet.

The college crush thing is a whole other kettle of fish. There’s a chance he might read this (if you do, E, I don’t mind you knowing all this stuff) and so might my husband, who hopefully is used to me telling my stories by now.

When I was 17 I went to sixth form college like most 17 year olds do. On day one, as I entered my new form room, I spotted E and was quickly smitten. He had long surfery hair, was wearing a band t-shirt (Carter USM, I recall) and the kind of smile you remember, 20 years on.

Miraculously (in my eyes), I had caught E’s eye too and even more miraculously, he was open about liking me, unlike other boys I had known up until this point.

I was very naive then. I had barely been kissed (but kissed enough), let alone handed over my virginity to anybody who would take it and was something of a hot mess. Hey, this was Bexhill-on-Sea, circa 1994, and there wasn’t a lot going on there, besides warm bottles of Merrydown in the park.

I spend all my time wondering if I would ever feel comfortable in my own skin so when I got this attention it was nice. I was still very awkward about talking to the opposite sex and so when I think back to this period I imagine myself as mute. I must have got some words out though because we managed to arrange a date.

I’m a romantic now but back then, before I had tasted a little bit of love (and the subsequent heartaches), I was much worse. I was probably galloping way ahead of date one, planning future weddings, children, life as childhood sweethearts (sort of).

We did have that date. We kissed for hours in his bedroom. He played the drums. We had dinner at his parents house (where he also resided, natch) and watched Top of the Pops (Naomi Campbell had a pop career then). When it was time, he walked me to the corner of his road where my mum picked me up.

While we waited, he asked me what I wanted and I said – damn my naivete! – a boyfriend. This is where he told me, nicely, that he wasn’t on the same page. The Saturday night after our date, I went to a disco and kissed someone else.

And that was that.

Continue reading “Old Flames”

What’s In a Name?

Dolores is as Dolores does
Dolores is as Dolores does

I’ve found myself with an impromptu afternoon off thanks to the kindness of work, who released us back into the wild at 2pm today.

I can’t lie, I was moving stacks of unimportant paper from one side of my desk to the other in a bid to look busy and hadn’t the strength to complete a whole day of faux-productivity.

So, here I am in front of Brooklyn Nine-Nine, back in pajamas with some unexpected time on my hands. I did pick up Lena for a wee while but she wasn’t quite doing it for me.

So blogging it is. It’s a few days before the new year rings in and I’m feeling okay about that. Naturally, this late in proceedings it is typical to be reflective.

Usually to have a ponderous scratch of the head and review what you didn’t manage to achieve despite all good intention; more likely to set up the next in-depth list of goals for the fresh snowy carpet of the new year ahead.

I will probably do that before the witching hour comes on the 31st but not yet. I must have a good think about what I really want to put myself through first.

Instead, I will tell you about the Christmas present I bought myself. The calm before the storm seems a good time to mention it.

I bought myself a name. And with this new name, comes great responsibility.

When I was born, my mother didn’t name me for three weeks. She rolls this anecdote out on the reg and I can’t decide if I think it’s a bit upsetting, or that it’s the coolest thing ever. I am leaning toward the latter. She maintains that they were waiting for my personality to manifest itself before they labelled me forever with a moniker that didn’t fit.

I almost had a name that puts me in mind of a Russian spy, and again I can’t be sure how I feel about that. Perhaps by not having the name Natasha, my career with MI5 was snipped even before it began.

It took me a long time to come to terms with my name. It’s just unusual enough to be messed up all the time by anyone using it. I am constantly referred to as ‘Christine’, ‘Chrissy’, ‘Christina’ – even ‘Christopher’. It seems now that I have spent most of my life ‘coming to terms’ with my name, my hair, my body.

Continue reading “What’s In a Name?”

Sad Happy

I’m so sick. Again.tumblr_ndwzxopc701r5gmiko1_500

Just as I was weaning myself off liquid centered throat sweets (cherry, natch), I caught another cold and this one’s a doozy. I feel like the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man has taken up twerking in my brain.

I’ve had a shower, I’ve watched a film Mr B would hate whilst shoveling Chocolate Orange segments into my face (he’s gone bowling). I have tea; and I’ve talked to my mum on the phone.

I’ve done all my comfort bits and even though my eyes and nose are still leaking, I feel okay.

My grandfather passed away last weekend. It was to be expected for a 98 and a half-year old but the truth about life is that you are never that prepared. Expecting things to come almost adds a new level of panic to the event when it does arrive, like you’ve had too much time to think about how you will feel and how you will react.

We’re all pretty sad. I’m sadder than I thought I would be. He’s been such a huge part of all our lives forever, in good and bad ways. And now he’s gone and that’s a big thing. I’ve talked about him before. I was truthful but not very kind.

And now he’s gone, it doesn’t feel that good. It’s sad. Sad for him, mostly.

When people die it’s normal to think hard about your own mortality. This makes me think about my legacy. Who will I be when I’m old? Will I still be a decent person? Will I be missed?

I hope nobody says I am better off gone. I hope when I do toddle off this mortal coil people will at least say that I was funny. Or sweet.

Nice is a bit boring, but if that’s what my legacy is destined to be then so be it. I can live with nice.

But don’t think I’m sitting home crying into my comforter. Well, I am crying into my comforter but it’s because of my cold, not sorrow.

Ten

What, just chilling over here with my mirr'r
Wha? Just chilling over here with my mirr’r

I didn’t do yesterday’s 101 challenge because I couldn’t find anything that really got me excited. This may have been down to being at work and having time only for a cursory glance over the Community Event Listings.

I am trying to play better, I promise. I’ve found some lovely blogs over the last few weeks. I lieu of the assignment, I am going to study my navel and ponder the fact that my stepson in ten years old today. Ten!

It just doesn’t seem possible that the tiny boy I first met, from whom I so desperately wanted just one sign that he thought I was okay, has grown into a beautiful, fiercely smart and hilarious bigger boy.

He was four when he first came into my life and I will be the first to admit, although I wasn’t against the fact the love of my life had a son, I definitely hadn’t prepared for it. Of course he lives with his mum so it wasn’t as if I’d walked into a scenario where I was expected to be Mum but still. I guess I hasn’t really thought about how I would handle it at all.

My previous relationship had involved two girls from a previous marriage and I cringe when I think how awful I must have been when they came to stay. Not because I was horrible, though I am sure I had my moments, just in that I was so detached for most of my six-year reign that they must have wondered if the lights were even on (They weren’t).

We now all enjoy a good relationship albeit from afar since they are in Derbyshire and I’m here, down South (minus the horrid boyfriend) so something went right in the end, but I think of that time often and would change the way I was then in a heartbeat, if I could.

With B, it was different. He’s a boy for a start, so an alien (or so I thought). His mother is local, so she’s more present in our lives. Which is a good thing for B, of course, to have us all within spitting distance.

You might know this, you might not, but I have never wanted children. All I can say when people ask me why is, “I just don’t”. It’s not a witty retort to the eternally irritating and over personal line of questioning people assume they have the right to use, however, that’s the truth.

But I do love my stepson.

It has taken us both a long time to get to the point we’re at now. It’s taken tears and heartache (mine). Utter bewilderment and slight annoyance (his) but we’re here; both in one piece.

It’s not easy to give your love to a person who is too young to understand it, who only sees things in black and white. Or share your loved one with somebody else, even when you know it’s a completely different kind of love.

I doubt it’s easy to go and see your dad as a child and have to deal with a woman you don’t even know, for that matter.

Now we have a funny kind of dynamic; I play my role of the desperate Step Mom vying for his affection and he gets it, plays along. And when he shows love, or appreciation, or admiration – I die.

Happy birthday B. You’ll likely never read this but this one’s for you, kiddo!

Hand-Me-Downs: The Red Shoes

My red shoes looked nothing like these!
My red shoes looked nothing like these!

Clothes and toys, recipes and jokes, advice and prejudice: we all have to handle all sorts of hand-me-downs every day. Tell us about some of the meaningful hand-me-downs in your life. Via The Daily Post (10th September 2014)

I coveted those red shoes for what felt like years. To my childish heart, it felt like forever but in reality it was probably just a few weeks. Those shoes, though, those pillar box red, stiletto heeled mules; they epitomised glamour, making me think of women. Of the woman I so desperately wanted to be.

I must have been about ten or eleven and I was already daydreaming about who I would become.

My aunt owned those shoes and I insisted, every time we went round, that I get to try them on. One day I will buy my shoes just like these, I would think to myself as I trotted around like the perfect cliché of a little girl, except less cute.

I was a tom boy (I think) with short hair back then (not my choice) and my aunt Sine was glamorous to me, with long hair and lashes. Looking back I never saw her wear these shoes herself, and she always seemed to be doing something practical, with two sons it was just the way it was. Still, that’s how I saw it; I wanted to walk in those shoes and be just like her.

I could draw you a picture of them right now if you asked me to, their shape and how they felt is still etched on my heart. They were The Future and when my aunt finally handed them over, I thought my tiny heart might burst with happiness.

I wore my shoes the incredible day they finally became mine and then, as quickly and as childishly as I had fallen for them, I put them away in favour of The Millenium Falcon. I still think of them to this day though and of what they represented to me.

Think Ink

When I was a teenager I wasn’t sure of anything really, but I did have a slightly rebellious streak (that I cultivated to push against an76467164700c60e1c37c733e0cd53e93 imaginary enemy). My lovely mum was pretty cool with most things so I was fighting myself, mostly.

When I was around 14 (in my anecdote I am 14, but I suspect I was actually 16), I convinced my uncle to take me to get a tattoo. We chose a tiny little shop in an alleyway in Hastings Old Town one Saturday and I had absolutely no plans for a design.

I am from a family that you wouldn’t exactly call ‘tattoo friendly’ and before this had never had an older family member with a secret tattoo. If my own grandfather has a fuzzy blue mermaid anywhere about his person then I have never heard of it, much less seen it.

So it was brave of me I think to walk into the buzzing atmosphere of my first tattoo parlour that afternoon. In those days it was easy to fake a birth date on a flimsy piece of paper, no ID was requested and to be fair I don’t think anyone cared all that much.

I pointed to a tiny pink butterfly on the wall and before I knew it I was in the chair, a huge man with a ring through his nose looming towards me with a needle.

I took it well, marvelling at a feeling I had never had before. I know it now to be a flush of adrenaline but my childish heart was just delighted to be doing something so unauthorised. So free.

While he waited, my uncle fell in love with a dream catcher design (or was it a mushroom?) and went back a few weeks later for his own ink. And I’ve been in love with tattoos ever since.

If I didn’t know anything else, I knew right there that one day I would be covered in them if I only had my way.

Today I have quite a few. The artwork on my body varies from very very bad to really great and there are some oddballs in between. People talk about tattoos being a map of events in your life and that is true for me to a certain extent. There’s the 18th birthday present from my high school BFF (shooting stars, ankle), the ill-advised travel tattoos (tiger cub, hip/multiple lotus flowers), the great big Fuck You.

There’s the love token (letter ‘g’, back of neck), the BFF that is no more tattoo (tiny star, behind ear) – and then there are the ones that I just had to have because I like stuff (sugar donut/nail polish bottle/hula hoop). What I have is for me and nobody else, although I do run it past Mr Bee first. It’s not a request for permission per se, just checking in.

In the end, it doesn’t matter what other people say, how many times they ponder when I will stop or if it will affect my ability to get a job in the future. A big oaf in the Co-op asked me if they were real and then proceeded to tell me how much he hates tattoos. Great customer service, my friend!

It is my body and if I’ve thought it through and want to do it, I will. I’m not as heavily covered as some friends, but have quite a bit more than others. Some of my friends have nothing at all and always make me think of what Ozzy Osbourne once said:

If you want to be —-ing individual, don’t get a tattoo. Every —-er’s got one these days.”

This week, today actually, I am popping in to hang out with my friend and tattooist, Alex, who is going to draw me up an epic piece. I’m at the stage where slapping things on empty space isn’t an option anymore, they have to fit in with existing pieces so that the overall ‘sleeve’ knits together.

I like colour and I love the traditional style, and I’m also a massive girl so everything I have has to have a feminine edge, even my lumberjack is drinking from a fine bone china cup and saucer. I don’t really know what I’m doing but I do know what I like so that’s half the plan sorted, right?

As for my family, well my Mum at least, she came round eventually, electing to have a tattoo to celebrate her 65th birthday. Her son-in-law paid and every time I see it I get a glimpse of the bad ass within. She gets complimented by hipster waitresses and I admire her for doing it because she wanted to.

She’s still not sold on the idea of me being covered but that’s just because I’ll always be her baby girl. She loves them on other people.

So what are your views on tattoos? Do you have them/want them/abhor them?

Let’s Talk About Sex

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Tip toeing into womanhood

Write about your first sexual experience (via Writing Exercises)

My first sexual encounter wasn’t all that but, as is often the way, I have been left with a great story to add to my box of memories which sees itself rolled out when the vodka is flowing and the tone has been lowered.

Something you might not know about me: I love talking about sex.

People can be very prissy about it but it’s only natural, right? I don’t think I’m a lewd girl without class but I enjoy penis talk and a girthy range of other saucy topics. So sue me.

Like Salt n’ Pepa once said “Let’s tell it how it is, and how it could be. How it was, and of course, how it should be” (Let’s Talk About Sex, 1991)

I was a late bloomer. Not for political reasons. I was just terrified of the idea of ‘doing it’ and the male form, and crippled by my own inadequacies as a ‘woman’. My classmates were happily sowing their oats and taking the piss out of all of us Virgins, pondering whether we might actually be ‘lezzas’ and making us all terrified to even glance in the general direction of someone of the same sex.

For about twenty minutes I sat and thought about whether I actually might be into girls but I figured in the end that my fascination with the more exotic of my species was down to the comfort in which they strode about in their own skin. I liked boys anyway and wanted one for myself, if I could only muster the courage to touch one.

I was eighteen when I finally got to the stage where I thought I could shrug off the taboo of still being chaste. By then my friend Lucy and I were going up to London every weekend and going to clubs, being bad girls. We met some boys (I say boys but my boy was 24) and started to spend time with them, sometimes sharing their spare room if we missed the last train home, which we always did.

Through these boys I met Marvin. He was quite the alluring prospect with his tight dreadlocks and beautiful dark skin. I wasn’t all that romantically inclined but he liked me, smelt nice and hey, if it all went wrong I didn’t have to see him again. Tactics, my friends even at that young age.

We arranged to meet and by chance, Lucy had also lined up a date for the night, so we booked into a B&B in South London. We went for drinks then went our separate ways, Lucy to the boudoir with the boy she’d met in the Wimpy, me with Marvellous Marvin.

I lied about my experience, scoffing convincingly when questioned about whether I had had sex before. This perhaps worked against me in the end, since he took no prisoners if you know what I mean.

When the deed was done (hours later), he got up, told me he had to go back to his girlfriend and asked me for cab fare. With a smile that may or may not have contained a gold tooth, he was gone.

I wasn’t even mad. He’d served his purpose and when he asked to see me two weekends later, I ignored the message. All I really remember now of that event is the morning after, walking to the tube with an ache where you’d expect an ache to be after being thrown around all night like a rag doll. It felt like adulthood.

I didn’t have it off again until two years later, and that time I got my little heart shattered.

But that’s another story.