When I was eighteen I split up with my first boyfriend,and was then thrown out of the family home after being attacked. I stayed with my mamma and her partner for two weeks, and it was a pretty messy time for me, and my family. Before being thrown out of my parent’s I had applied for a job in Norfolk working as an Activity Instructor. Everything in my life was messy and grey, and depressing, there was a high level of angst too, being a teenager and all.
Before I had been thrown out I wasn’t a hundred per cent sure that I wanted to go, I needed to provide a CRB and had messed around alot as a kid and had gotten a shoplifting conviction amongst other things. Now that it’s been almost ten years since I as much as spoke to a police officer I can’t quite believe the amount of trouble and naughtiness that me and my friends got up too. Anyway, back to the story. They needed us all to provide a CRB and I was worried that my convictions would scupper my chances of a job with the company. I was doubtful about leaving my mum, and my other family, and worried about just about everything at that time. As mentioned earlier I also had a bad relationship break down (my fault) wasn’t entirely sure whether I was pregnant or not (I wasn’t) and was living with my mamma and her partner who though, whilst lovely to me, didn’t really want me there. It is after all their home, and having a stroppy teenager mulling about isn’t ideal for anyone.
Anyway, owing to the fact that I had to go to Camp, after being thrown out of my home, off I went, to the train station, and set about getting to Leicester Train Station where a coach would pick us all up and take us to Norfolk. It’s weird writing this, I can almost feel myself as I were then, a slightly chubby teenager with not a clue about anything, broken hearted and dismal, family in tatters, off to start a new life. It makes my tummy feel nervous.
Anyhow, when we got to the centre, it transpired that we were on an assessment weekend and not all of us would be taken on by the company. You can imagine how jittery that made me, knowing I had no home to go back to. We were put into rooms (at first I was with some girls I met on the bus, a lesbian couple it later transpired, and another girl, a bit of a bossy boots, who much later became quite senior in the company, punched the guy she was going out with in the face, then left to make a home and have babies with said boyfriend. ) and then spilt into groups to face challenges. It’s been awhile but I do re-call there were lego and ropes involved, and quiet people like me didn’t really have much to do. I was convinced I was going home. So was bossy boots, who got put in the same group as me, when the results were given to us x factor style. She repeatedly looked at me when she said it, as if convinced by my presence that she was off home. Anyway I am going into way too much detail, most of us were taken on, the ones that weren’t were the sluts who had gone round giving blow jobs, and some guys who had decided to wee out their windows.
Anyway during that week end I had slowly drifted away from the bossy cow and from the lesbian couple and had made friends with a girl called Debbie. She was a sweet girl, just turned eighteen, and had arrived at the centre on her own, as she had driven from Rotherham in Sheffield. Debbie was pretty much given a certain level of status immediately owing to the fact that she had a licence and a shiny new car. She was also pretty with long shiny hair and gave the impression she had got her shit together. Debbie and me chose the same camp in Norfolk to go to on a permanent basis and drove up together in her car. We were also going to be room mates, and we were, for a little while at least.
Anyhow I stayed at the company for nearly a year. There were some incredible highs, getting a disabled boy down the zip wire, working with some awesome people,meeting and helping some wonderful children, earning reward cards that I will keep and treasure for the rest of my life, parties that were legendary, hangovers none of us will ever forget, and memories I am truly grateful for.
There were some massive lows, home sickness, intense friendships that fizzled as soon as the people left, which was pretty much constant, being involved with a dodgy guy who broke my fragile heart, crying hysterically one day in the managers office whilst he looked on in absolute alarm, bratty children who kicked and punched you whilst their even more bratty teachers laughed. It was brilliant and truly awful at the same time, and now at nearly 24, I am incredibly grateful that I took a HUGE risk in moving to the other side of the country for a year, and even though I shake at the thought of taking another such risk (getting older, damn it) I appreciate that brave eighteen year old who took a chance, and thank her for it.
P.s Me and Debbie are still friends. She works as a mentor at a school and is a volunteer police woman. She also has a lovely boyfriend and has just bought her own home. She puts me to shame. I’ll tell her this when I see her in two weeks, when we are off on a girly night out.
My life lesson today: As we get older it becomes harder for us to take risks. We grow up, mature, and forget that child we used to be, and mostly for the better. But sometimes I think it’s important to be that child again. I’m going to take some risks today, even tiny ones. Like walking to get a stamp when I have a a skin condition, and worry people will judge me. Fuck it.