When I was a teenager there were a lot of things I took for granted. Nothing more so than my parents. It was like I had tunnel vision and the only thing I could focus on was how they had let me down. In reality they still were the best parents I could hope for, they were just struggling to adjust.
On my seventeenth birthday my parents bought me a series of driving lessons and had agreed to pay for them up until my first test (if I didn’t pass first time, I would have to pay from then on). When I passed my test in the January they bought me a car, it was an early eighteenth birthday present. It was a old banger, a burgundy red VW Polo, it had character. I was one of the first in our circles of friends to pass my test, new found freedom!
My parents were trying, I wasn’t. They would try to connect with me and talk to me about everything I was going through, I just couldn’t face it. I remember going out to walk Barney with my Dad one evening, of course my mum had told him everything, and he tried to chat with me about it all. It was probably the most awkward conversation we have ever had, where the first word that leads in that direction makes you roll your eyes and cringe.
I certainly didn’t appreciate the fact that they were trying, they clearly worried that I was putting more and more distance between us than was really necessary. I was a constant worry to them, they never knew where I was, what I was doing or who I was doing it with. I couldn’t see any of the truly amazing things they did for me.
When I was doing my a levels I was having the best time of my life, the most confusing time of my life, even sometimes the worst of my life. I made some friends that have stood the test of time and have proven to be truly amazing people. I learned a lot about myself, good and bad.
One of the stories I forgot… I had help remembering this one. The college took a day trip to a University Open Day at Bath Uni. Almost every university up and down the country had set up a stall and were available to answer questions from eager students looking for somewhere to continue their studies the following year. It was easily the hottest day of the year so far. As soon as I’d stepped off the coach and into the sunshine in my t-shirt a bird crapped all over me! I was mortified, and it was only just the beginning of the day. I spent all day in the sweltering heat wearing my jacket, man it was hot! I was reminded of this story again a few years back and I didn’t remember a thing until they were telling this and then it all came flooding back to me.
There are other events that I do remember quite clearly. I remember going to Oscars, which was a nightclub on the Longleat estate. Unfortunately it actually closed down by the time I was legally old enough to go there. However, since I didn’t drink and it was more about going dancing with my friends we didn’t feel the need to worry about such things as being underage. I mean this club was in the middle of nowhere, if you were old enough to make your own way there chances are you were old enough to get in.
Those were some of the best and most hilarious nights. One time I even went over with two of my closest friends as it was ladies night and they had booked strippers to entertain the women. We quite liked people watching, we’d all clocked this poser at the bar, long black hair, looking around like he owned the place and could have any woman he wanted. To me he looked ridiculous, we laughed a lot as we cracked jokes about him. A little later that evening I saw a whole lot more of him that I ever intended to see, an evening that certainly affirmed my sexual preferences.
At this time I was overly confident, or maybe I just didn’t care. I would play ‘streetmate’ (Channel 4 program with Davina Mccall in her glory days) in the high street with my friend Peter, he’d point out a guy while we were out in Bath that he particularly thought was hot and I’d make the introductions, how crazy is that? No regard at all for the tonne of potentially disastrous outcomes. It actually worked more than once. I would often be the first person on the dance floor on an evening out, I cared far too much about having a good time to be self-conscious.
I also reconnected with some friends that I hadn’t been particularly close with throughout school but we’d always known each other. Katy thought she was introducing me to someone she worked with one evening, only to find that I already knew Michael and all hist friends. We would hang out regularly from then on, and to this day he’s still one of my closest friends. We don’t have to see each other often, but when ever we manage to catch up it’s like no time at all has passed.
All of this and many more amazing memories that I have I have taken for granted over the years, at times I have even lost touch with the person I was back then. I’ve grown as a person along the way, but at times I miss something about being that person. There are moments when I feel just the same, usually when I’m in the company of truly great friends, or maybe after a vodka or two, but it doesn’t come as easily as it did when I was seventeen.
As for love, during this time, I felt loved, I was happy. We had quite a few trouble-free months during those days. I had applied to University in Portsmouth, and a couple other places, but it was there that I was heading. I was looking forward to being away from home, but I hated knowing that I’d be leaving so much behind.