19. A Letter to My Younger Self

I watched Amanda de Cadenet’s internet TV show series, ‘The Conversation’ a few years ago, and her advice to her 14-year-old self was to “keep her knickers on a bit longer.”

Like the song, mine will be too few to mention.

I will love. I will be loved. I will be in love with someone at the same time that they are in love with me. This will happen more than once. I will love someone who does not love me back and that will be agony. I will have my heart smashed a few times. Twice by the same person and I will still consider going back to them again.

I will definitely hurt people with things I’ve said. I will wish I could go back and do things differently. Sometimes, those words were bad timing and said out of jealousy, fear, anger, sleep deprivation, hunger, pain, lack of caffeine or nicotine withdrawal. Like me, those people might still be haunted by how those words made them feel, but not recall a single thing about the person who said them.

I will not report my assault to the police. I will choose not to go to the sentencing of my burglar. I will want to be able to potentially walk past him in the street, not recognise him, so not be reminded of what he did to me, and all those nights of sleep I never had.

I will be brave to leave, but cowardly not to give a proper explanation of why.

I sincerely hope that I will not be ” the one who got away.” If I was, I will not want them to tell me.

I will win easily. I will lose badly. I will not try. I will wish I tried harder.

I will cry and laugh. A lot.

People will tell me that the best sex is with someone you love who loves you, or that there’s no place like home, but sometimes I will want have to find out for myself. See the world with my own eyes. Listen more. Be curious and open.

Dita Von Teese:
“You can be the ripest, juiciest peach in the world, and there’s
still going to be somebody who hates peaches.”

My weight and what I look like will always be irrelevant.  There! I have saved myself a few years of worry.  The world’s perception of me is will not be how I see myself. Comparing my day to day life with other people’s edited hightlight reel on social media will not be healthy. It will always be conflicted in my own head.

Enjoying my own company will be my favourite thing to do. I will be told by many people that I am a brilliant friend, annoying, generous, kind, fun, honest, open, compassionate and weird. But not everyone will like me and that’s ok.

No-one will ever know what other people are going through. It will take me a long time to realise, identify, accept, and work through my personal mental health and issues of anxiety and depression. When that cloud melts, and my thoughts become free, I will be more creative and find myself with an abundance of time to think about other things. The flip-side is that more of my life will now be behind me than in front.

“When my head clears, I will have more time.”

I will never blame my parents: they were young and did the best they could at the time with what they had. Peri-menopause hormones will give me the experience of being  a 14-year-old girl all over again, yet that time round, I will be able to see around the corners of decisions I might make. I can change the ending if I know the consequences in advance.

If I could name three things that I would do differently, they would be these.

  1. Not to take up smoking. Not because it is bad for me, but because it is expensive, smelly, really hard to give up, and my circle of friends will become mostly those who smoke.
  2. To get a job and save money for a long-term plan. (travelling, car, rainy day saving, house deposit for security) Spending money as I get it, will give me fewer life choices. Debt will cripple me with worries.
  3. To cultivate a transferable skill that I am good at, to open up my opportunities, so I can possibly live abroad. Get fluent in a language, learn an instrument, how to cut hair, to drive or play sport.

Sometimes I will want to dip my toe in and sometimes I will jump right in. It’s my life. I cannot tell my younger self how my life turns out, because if I had the chance to live it again, circumstances would be very different.

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12. Lunch with the Girls

How’s your nephew getting on Liz?” Said Louise, peeling the plastic off a duck wrap.

“Sam says it’s the best thing he’s ever done. They’re really proud of him. Says he’s really growing into a man. He’s going to Germany next month.” Says Liz.

“You know that driver, Tony?” Asked Louise. “Well, he was in the army and I overheard him talking to Steve about the brothels in Germany. They’ll make him into a man.”

“They really should have brothels for women you know. It’s totally sexist.” Said Liz, just before she stretched open her mouth to accommodate a mouthful of tuna mayo on brown.

“What would be the point of that?” I reply, picking off some manky looking lettuce from my chicken salad. “You’d still get dolled up for it. You should just buy a toy instead. Get it exactly when you want. Guaranteed every time. Save you the bother of a bloke.”

Liz does that clicky finger point thing at Louise.

“It’s not that I don’t want a boyfriend.” Louise says. “It’s just that I can’t find anyone decent. All the men I seem to meet are all complete bastards. I mean, what kind of man asks whether you’re on your period before they come over? Tom never once stayed the night when I was on.”

img_3021-1 “The kind that are only after one thing.” Said Liz

She helps herself to one of Louise’s low-calorie prawn-flavoured crisps shaped like little shells and sucks it. “Red flag. Literally!”

“They’re not all like that. You two are doing ok. Why can’t I find a nice man who just wants to come round for his tea once or twice a week, and stay over? All I want is a cinema trip or meal out sometimes. Maybe a dog walk at the weekend. That’s not asking much. He can still do all his man stuff. Beer and computer games or cars or whatever. It’s not like I want the whole marriage and kids thing.” Said Louise. “I’ll even go round to his mums for Sunday lunch if he wants.”

“You have to go to where the men are. The football or the rugby or a gig. It’s harder now we’re older. They think we’re desperate for kids. Do you want to have a drink on Friday?” Said Liz. Louise’s phone pings and she takes it out of her coat pocket. “Oh sorry, I can’t.” Said Liz “I said I’d pick him up from darts. We could try that new sports bar next time City are playing if you like.” She adds, taking another one of Louise’s prawn shells.

“Anyway.” I continue. “You don’t even have to go to one of those dirty old man shops anymore. There’s a shop in London where men aren’t even allowed in unless they’re with a woman.”

“Isn’t that reverse sexism?” Asks Louise.

“I guess.” Said Liz. “It must be legal though. Did I ever tell you about my mate Sall’s mum and dad? Her dad wanted to go to one of those nudist places and her mum didn’t want to go but she gave in cos he’d had that brain tumour and life is for living and all that. Anyway, she met another bloke there, and she left Sally’s dad for him. Her dad was then banned from the naturist place because single men weren’t allowed.”

“That’s harsh.” I said. “Ironic though, seeing as it was his idea in the first place.”

“I want to a Dita Von Teese book signing in Waterstones.” I said. “You’d have thought there’d be loads of men there but there. weren’t. We were told we could have two minutes each with her and she was there signing for about two hours so I guess there were 100-120 people there. I only saw like three men in the queue. They turned away loads of people though. She had security guards and everything.”

“I’d love to see her live. Said Louise

“Me too.” I said

“What did you say to her?” Asked Louise.

“I kind of just babbled about how much if a fan I was. It was stupid really. I’d been waiting for over two hours already, before she came out, so I should have practiced what I wanted to say.”

“This sandwich is a bit rank.” Said Louise.

“Yeah, mine’s a bit shit. Let’s not go there again.” I said.

“Mine’s av-er-age. Bread’s a bit dry actually and the tuna’s watery and it’s too salty.” Said Liz

“So anyway, are you going to get one then?” I said.

“I might. I never even thought of going online.” Louise says.

“They’re all silicon these days. Soft and a bit squidgy. Lovely colours. Not that hard plastic anymore. That’s long gone. And, get this.” I pause for effect.

“What?” Louise says.

“Yoo. Ess. Bee.” I pronounce the letters deliberately. “No batteries.”

“Ever ready” Liz says.

“Exactly.” I say in a terrible scouse accent.