My first trip to town was on my 12th birthday. My sister took me in and got me a tshirt that said ‘I’m with stupid’ with an arrow to the left. I’m still waiting to outgrow that shirt, actually. It’s still sat in my wardrobe. She introduced me to a few people that day, some people that I remain friends with, some who I couldn’t name even if you showed me a photograph. One such friend is Ben. He met me on my birthday, and even now 5 years later despite the fact he’s gone off to get a degree in a far away land, and despite the fact at some point along the road I did some pretty shitty things to his family, he’s stuck with me. I didn’t have a best friend until I was 12 years old, how pathetic.
So, saturdays during town-era went a bit like this: Get up, get a lift to town in order to get a bus to a different town. Hang around, maybe drink some WKD, maybe do a little wrestling, maybe scribble on some subway walls, maybe smash some bottles to fall and impale yourself on later. At some point during my first summer in town, I smoked my first cigarette. I had been having a bad week. Financially, times were hard and we couldn’t really afford for me to be in town, but I was there. A girl I now think back on as a typical manic pixie dream girl was sat with me under a tree, and we were talking about parents. Her stance was “the only thing they gave me was life” - which apparently was not enough to earn her love or respect. She was a troubled teen, I heard stories about her from everyone, but it didn’t stop me from fancying her – I don’t think it stopped anyone. I told her about how unfair it was that my parents spent money on cigarettes and wine for mom instead of keeping up my town habit. She offered me her cigarette. At this point, I have forgotten how that first fag tasted, though it was probably foul. I didn’t make the rookie mistake of coughing, my body didn’t betray me like that. I had spent long enough watching my parents puffing away to know how it worked. That was that, nothing notable apart from yet another first I accomplished in town.
So that was my first lady crush and cigarette. I never did anything but drunkenly kiss her, but I’ve stuck with smoking for 5 years now. It was a subtle trap indeed, but I will never regret that conversation preceding the beginning of my addiction.
Some other firsts happened in the vicinity of town, too. The first time I got drunk (I had 2 litres of Strongbow and a small bottle of vodka – I promptly climbed a tree and sliced my wrists open with the broken bottle, very dramatic.) The first time I got high (I promptly fell asleep.) The first time I had sex was with someone I knew from town. I did all the things that teenagers do – I ran away to field parties with strobe lights and bonfires, worried my parents half to death and was escorted home in a police van more than once. This is typical behaviour of a 16-18 year old. I was 12-13. I was so drunk off the fact that I belonged. I was a town girl. I saw the pretty girls with their dark eyes and lipstick and corsets and skinny jeans and I wanted to be like them, so I started wearing eyeliner and dying my hair and saving up for corsets and skinny jeans. I had never belonged anywhere in my life and I wanted to be a pretty alternative girl, I wanted to be like them. I think I managed it alright, I was promiscuous and reckless and I was always the first to crack open a can.
I did a lot of growing up in a few short years, and while I was at school I had to try really hard not to boast about my endeavours. I was still smart, remember, so I knew that if I went around boasting about all the drugs and sex I had had, teachers would hear and they would tell my parents. So I started writing it down. In my school, they give you what is called a Rough Book. It’s meant for the days when you forget your subject book, so you can write your notes in the rough book and copy them up later. I still have all the rough books I went through, filled with scribbles and poems and lists of things I needed to buy that weekend for whatever party was going on. Everything was fine until a year 8 RE cover lesson, when I had my rough book confiscated from me because I was writing in it instead of watching a film I had already seen. This was troublesome for two reasons: The first was that I had (in a stroke of pure genius) wrote down the number of a dealer on the front cover, the second was that I had written several suicide notes in it.
My teacer read it, and called me in. She said she wouldn’t mention what I had wrote if I agreed to see the school councellor. And that is where I became the certified freak of the school. I was in councelling, I wore my net gloves everywhere, my hair was usually dyed weird colours but never properly clean because quite frankly fuck washing. Added to this, I became friends with a girl named Sarah, she was in the year above me and she was one of the more touchy feely people I have ever met. We’d spend a lot of time at break and lunch hugging and people would see and laugh at us. It wasn’t so bad when she was around, because she was one of the popular girls with big boobs. But when we weren’t together everyone would throw things at me, and ask me if I was gay. I sure as shit didn’t think I was gay. I didn’t know why they wanted to know, either. It was confusing, because I hadn’t quite got the point that being gay was a bad thing. I used to give them answers like “maybe, are you?” and “That depends on the girl.” In retrospect, that probably wasn’t such a good idea.
So while town life carried on being full of alcohol and sex and Tenacious D singalongs, school life carried on being full of bullshit kids throwing shit at me and constantly asking if I was gay, despite the fact that I’d learned to sit on the fence and tell them that I was bi.
I should mention at this point the role of my parents in all this. I realise that you may be reading thinking “What the hell were the parents doing?! Letting 12 year olds go and get drunk in a city! Disgraceful!” I will remind you that yes, I was young – I was more than jailbait, I was pedophilia practically. My parents have never denied me anything. That’s a lie, they have denied me many things. But they work on the principal of ‘if we can afford it, you can have it.’ They couldn’t afford much, but they could afford to pick me up from my friends houses, and they could afford to give me bus fare. Sure, they grounded me after my first party that I ran away to and got drunk for the first time at. I sat on MSN with Ben the whole time, laughing at internet things. I think that was when I was first introduced to Zero Punctuation too – that’s another story for later on. My parents have constantly been loving and supportive in everything I have chose to do. I think that as far as town trips go, they were mostly oblivious as to what was going on. That shouldn’t surprise you if you’ve ever been a teenager. I was deceptive, and I lied frequently and I can own up to that.