I feel six years old again. I am the newbie in the room; the one without anyone to talk to. The smelly kid in the playground.
Having recently moved to Cornwall, away from the familiar cradle of ‘home’, I am on the search for new friends. New friends to meet for play-dates, coffee and cake, and evenings away from the routine of family life.
It’s hard making friends at any age, but at 36, it’s almost impossible. Who needs new friends at this age? Who doesn’t have already a big gang of buddies to drink lattes with and exchange tips for removing tomato-sauce from gingham dresses? Not many I’d say.
I am not unfamiliar with upping sticks and starting again. A child of a forces family, I’ve moved homes 17 times and hopped from school-to-school. Whilst it’s a familiar feeling to be starting again, I had hoped I’d be settled by now.
Padstow seems a very welcoming town and the school mums are certainly very smiley, but how do I move from: ‘Good morning’ to: ‘You seem normal, fancy coming for tea and a scone?’
Standing outside my daughter’s classroom with the twenty or so other parents makes me feel self-conscious, insecure and a bit sad. I miss my like-minded friends; the friends I can talk about contraception, period-pains and moustache-waxing with.
Furthermore, those few minutes I spend looking down at my boots, remind me of my first day at Bradon Forest School in 1992. I was fifteen; my hair was stuck to my head – soaked from the rain, and I was wearing my mum’s black trousers, her shoes, and my brother’s ski-ing jacket. I looked abysmal. No wonder the girl who was tasked with showing me around the school, introduced me to her boyfriend as: ‘Vicky – pretty isn’t she?!’ with a spiteful laugh. I’ve never forgotten her sarcastic remark and even though many years have passed, I still think of her unfavourably. F***ing cow!
Unbeknown to her, we had reluctantly moved into the area as my mum had been made redundant, resulting in the repossession of our family home and subsequent bankruptcy. Teenage kids have little regard for anyone’s backstory. If they look like a gyp, they’ll laugh. And I’m pretty certain I have done the same.
I regret hugely the way I treated my GCSE English teacher. My friend and I taunted him relentlessly, purely for our own satisfaction. We giggled incessantly during his attempts to teach us Shakespeare and laughed in his face when he threatened to throw his stapler at us.
We presumed he was just an ineffective, uptight, old person who had forgotten what it was like to be a sixteen-year old. We never considered his home-life; the state of his marriage, his health or wellbeing. We didn’t value him as a person.
I hope as I stand in the playground with ‘I AM NEW’ vibes pulsating from me, the other parents won’t see me as the outsider from ‘up country’ and will invite me into the fold. As long as it’s a cool fold of course, I don’t want to buddy-up with dullards!
Maybe I need to take out an ad in the classifieds: “36-year old woman with slightly weird personality,disturbed sense of humour and dislike of most people, seeks like-minded individual for gossiping, laughing and pant-wetting fun. Suitable applicant must be able to fart freely, discuss their sex-life intricately and also be willing to discuss the state of the world with intelligence, wisdom and compassion. Ideally looking for someone who will bake treats for me.”
How do you rate my chances?