Your time as a rebel defines who you are
The friend that gave me drugs, sex, cider and rock music.
When I was 16 I started in a higher education college. Like everything else in my life I was diligent at it. I went to my lectures and did the work. Until I met Saggy. That’s what she would want to be called.
I was out smoking one break time and there was this lady, reading a book with an interesting cover. She was on her own, had a bag of bread tied to her satchel, was very large, and had no teeth.
I’ll skip the boring part about how we got talking. It is boring I promise. Anyway, at this point I was just getting into writing in a serious way, she was a writer herself and an avid reader and so she encouraged me to keep putting words on paper. When I look back, that was the most precious gift she could ever have given me.
After a few weeks of this encouragement, some laughter and finally finding someone I could intellectually spa with, we were firm friends.
It turned out she didn’t live far from me. By this point I was living with my dad and life was tough. She let me stay at her house when I needed space and so we got closer and closer. (I’d like to point out that she did eventually get some teeth and did look all the better for it.)
We both lived about 4 miles from college, but if you were willing you could walk along the canal to get there in about 45 minutes. We were willing and we spent much time walking up and down that canal.
It started out well, but then there came a day we decided not to walk down the canal. On that day we went to get a bus instead. Only we didn’t end up on a bus to college, we ended up on a bus to Newport. The nearest city. She’d told me all about this bar called the Hornblower.
She said she’d been there a lot as a youngster and that it had the best jukebox in the world. She told me I wouldn’t get in trouble for skipping college, no one would know or care. She wasn’t wrong.
That one fateful afternoon changed everything. We met these guys. One called Jez and one called Norbert. I’m not even changing their names to protect their identity! Those were their real names.
We spent an afternoon flirting with them and with each other, for their benefit naturally. We ordered sticky toffee pudding and watched their faces as we fed it to each other. It was delicious, to this day, sticky toffee pudding makes me horny. It felt bad but it felt right too, I was stoned and drunk by 4pm, I had laughed and sung, I’d loved and danced. It was the most free I had ever felt.
When we got back home, my current boyfriend was waiting for me, as was my shoe shop job. The boyfriend didn’t last for more than a few days and I think the job lasted a few weeks longer.
Before long I got bored with working. In fact I remember the day quite clearly. It was a sunny day. The night before I had been at a party with Norbert. I didn’t know anyone there but it didn’t matter. We rocked up, danced till we were tired in a garden full of fairy lights and chatting people. We sat on a flat roof for hours smoking weed and drinking cider and getting to know people we would never see again. We left around 3am, walked a few miles back to his flat where we screwed untill the sun came up.
I realised I had to go to work, so I swigged some cider, got dressed and left him in bed. After about 3 hours in work I couldn’t take anymore and I just walked out and never went back. Saggy had already told me how easy it was to get unemployment benefits from the government. I didn’t have bills to pay, so that money would all be for drink and drugs right?
For the next few years I drank, I screwed everyone, I smoked weed, I did a lot of things that I shouldn’t be proud of. And I’m not proud of them but I don’t regret them either.
I became a nomad. I’d stay a few days with Saggy, maybe a night or two with her and Jez at his flat or a night or two or many with Norbert.
When I knew my dad would be out, usually on a Wednesday or at the weekend, I would go home, shower, get clean clothes, watch his porn, eat his food, and sing my little heart out to his awesome music collection.
Saggy encouraged my relationship with Norbert. She felt it was good for me to be seeing someone who was such a ‘free spirit’. Imagine, my whole life I’ve been controlled by everyone, then I meet this guy and he just doesn’t give a fuck. Of course I feel head over heels in teenage lust with him!
Norbert was about 37 and I was just becoming 16. He was balding, skinny as anything, he had snakes as pets and weird tattoos, he had a pierced nipple and couldn’t afford much more than the cider and drugs that were his staples.
We shared days at the pub, laughing and joking with people, putting great music on the jukebox, drinking and smoking. Then we’d go back to the flat at some ridiculous time. We’d talk, screw, drink, get high and sometimes he would read Terry pratchett books to me. I’d lie there with my eyes closed letting the words wash over me making pictures in my mind.
We also had our bad times. Times he’d get caught up screwing other women. Times I’d get caught up screwing other women and other men.
There was a time I had a threesome with Saggy and Jez, In fact more than one time. There was a time that Saggy fucked Norbert and a time that I screwed Jez. It was like one big fucked up relationship that would take on a life of its own.
There’s more to tell here but I’m struggling to find the words. The events that happened during these few years were significant but they are also fragmented in my mind. They don’t form a neat story. The majority of the time I was drug addled and drunk so that means I remember things from these times as snippets that don’t form much of an order.
Most people would call this my rebellious period. I guess it was in a way, it was needed to escape all the emotional and physical abuse I had been suffering. It gave me space to be me, even though that space was forced upon me by someone who should have known better.
When I went to university and met my ex husband, Saggy and I grew apart. If you’ve read any of my other stuff you’ll know why. He was keen to shut down any relationship I had with Saggy. She was actually quite a manipulative person. I didn’t see that until way later. He won the battle in what Kat did or didn’t do in that scenario.
From these times I have memories that I will treasure forever. I also have hang ups that I think will never go away.
It’s important to rebel, to break perceived rules. When I left my ex husband and had no idea who I was. It was my time as a ‘rebel’ that gave me a baseline. I remembered that time we formed a band and sung in open mic nights. I loved singing. I remembered those times I loved men and women equally. I remembered how much I loved sex and porn. I liked the feeling of being high.
While these are things I would never normally admit to out loud, I found it was possible to have these things I loved while holding down a job and being an adult and doing all the life crap that comes along with that.
Without Saggy I would have joined the corporate machine long ago. It was her that would eventually force me to go to university. If I hadn’t gone I wouldn’t have met my ex husband. She often pointed this out to me before we drifted apart. She hated that as much as she hated him. She tried to get me to leave him a number of times.
About three years ago I found out that Saggy died. I still don’t know what killed her. I got a message off this girl I snogged once. She said Saggy was carried out of Jez’s flat dead on a stretcher. By this time she also had two young children. (I had been quite involved when they were both babies — one for another post.) She just died in front of them.
I didn’t know how to feel about that then. I’ve been processing it for some time. In some ways I’m devastated that I didn’t get to see her one last time. In other ways I’m almost relieved.
The day I found out was the day I started writing seriously again. I know she would be proud of me for writing our truth.
Thank You for reading x
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