My final year at college I was certainly living in the moment. I had one foot out the door ready to run away to University, but in the interim I was having too much fun to really care about anything else. I did the bear minimum when it came to my studies, I passed my a levels. Which was actually rather impressive considering that I rarely turned up, completed coursework assignments or revised for any of my exams. I just about got good enough grades to go straight to Uni, I was doing design, usually people head off to do another year at college to develop their artistic skills, I was too impatient for that.
There were quite a few highlights leading up to my departure for University. My friend Michael and I spent most of the summer together, random road trips to anywhere, there was a competitiveness to our friendship that was quite funny at the time. We liked to play with dares, which led to a rather amusing incident one afternoon. We had been hanging out down town not really doing anything when this girl from the year below that we just barely knew was tagging along and generally getting on our nerves.
We managed to give her the slip and in our hasty getaway ended up heading to Heaven’s Gate (a short walk through Longleat Forrest ending with a spectacular view over the Longleat House and Gardens). We had decided to run down the rather steep hill at the end of the walk and into the fields below (something you wouldn’t catch me doing now!) and for some reason when we got to the bottom of the hill, we had dared Michael to streak across the field.
He did, now to allow some dignity the rest of us held back and let him run off into the distance and remove his clothes a safe distance away. It was deserted out here anyway. The moment he starts running freely across this show jumping field a little old lady appears at the top of the hill with her two westie dogs. I bet she got the shock of her life. None of us could stop laughing as Michael ran and jumped to hide behind a horse-jump and hastily put his clothes back on. I still remind him of this frequently.
My eighteenth birthday arrived, and with it my final exam of the year. I had been at the pub for lunch with my friends before we all went to college for our afternoon exam to celebrate. I remember getting a lot of birthday cards, but what sticks in my mind the most if the mix tape and the birthday badge my friend Emma had gotten me. The mix tape was for my car that only had a cassette player, it had some awesome tunes on it like Jackson 5’s I want you back… The birthday badge was black with yellow writing that said quite clearly ‘Woman Eater’ and they made me wear it throughout lunch.
Still being the tea-toal teenager I was always designated driver so I took us all back to college in my car, forgetting by this time that I was wearing this rather blatant admission of lesbianism pinned to my chest. As soon as we got out of my car in the car park we were greeted by one of the Psychology teachers, she definitely noticed the badge I was wearing judging by the blush on her face, she hurriedly wished us all good luck with our exams and we laughed pretty much all the way to the exam room.
Then there was prom… I was so G-A-Y back then. No joking, I wore a white trouser suit to the Prom and I went with my girlfriend. I had planned to stay the night at hers, which was something that was ‘out of the question’ during this time with my parents. I hadn’t quite figured out how I was going to get away with it.
A coach picked us up from the college and took us all to the venue, as nearly everyone in my year was 18 now it got a bit messy and there was a lot of drinking going on. None more so than Katy, I don’t think she felt comfortable around my friends at this time and the drinking helped with the nerves, perfectly normal. I didn’t quite realise just how drunk she was until the coach trip home, when she was sick all over herself! Now there was logic in this, since if you were sick on the coach there would have been a hefty cleaning fine, so drunk enough to be sick, but sober enough not to pay for it, proper job.
I still didn’t go home that night, I switched off my mobile phone and went home with Katy and spent the evening there, it was our first sleep over. To say my parents were worried was an understatement, it’s only now that I truly realise the worry I must have put them through that night. My best friend Farrah knew exactly where I was, and she was at work that day in a clothes shop in our town centre. My parents were looking for me, they had called her and visited her at work.
Farrah amazingly came through for me and provided a perfect alibi for me, she had told my mum that I had stayed the night at hers and that I hadn’t been able to tell them since the battery had died on my phone. If only I had known, by the time I had received Farrah’s text messages to equip me with my perfect alibi I had already headed home to face the music, I came home to find my Dad waiting for me and I had told him the truth.
My parents were impressed that I have such loyal friends that are willing to cover for me without me even having to ask. I have to admit I was impressed too. They weren’t so impressed with me and they certainly didn’t seem to approve of some of the company I was keeping these days.
About a six weeks later I got my acceptance letter to Portsmouth Uni, the following day I collected my exam results. I was disappointed with myself then. I could have done so much better than what I achieved. My best grade was a C which is pretty incredible seeming as I never handed in a complete assignment in my final year. If only I had tried harder life might have been a very different story, career wise. Still I can’t complain, I’m not doing too bad right now with the job I have. So now the countdown was on, my days in Somerset were numbered I would be moving to the South Coast (which is a much too glamorous description for Portsmouth!) and there was so much I didn’t want to leave behind, and so much I couldn’t wait to leave behind.