Twenty Nine

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When I was about 12, a teacher asked if I could help her out by cutting some card in half. I can’t remember what they were or what it was for, only that she gave me a stack of A4 sheets and a pair of scissors, and asked me to cut down the centre of each. To save time, I put a few sheets together and cut through them all.

Only once I cut through the last few did I see that there was somebody’s certificate at the bottom of the pile. I felt sick, and I hid the certificate deep in the back of a cupboard. When the teacher asked if anybody had seen it, I put my head down and pretended to write.

Admitting that I had made a mistake felt like the worst thing I could ever do.

*

When I was a child, the adults in my life thought I could do no wrong. Although this was in some ways a blessing, it was also a curse, because I’ve grown up being terrified of telling people anything I don’t think they want to hear.

When people meet me, they like me. My greatest fear is that by telling the truth people won’t like me anymore.

In theory, I know that I don’t want people in my life who don’t love me for who I am. In practice, I physically cannot make words come out of my mouth that might change somebody’s opinion of me.

I’ve lost count of the number of boys I’ve kissed because it seemed less awkward than admitting that I wasn’t attracted to them. Or the number of films and TV shows I’ve watched with people despite not being interested at all.

I ran away to get married, and only told my closest family via email that I had.

I didn’t even tell my husband when I was getting my first tattoo, and I hid it from my parents for at least a month.

Sometimes I get so caught up in trying to please people that I don’t even remember what is and what isn’t a lie.

*

Truth is a funny thing anyway. Some days something might be true, but it soon ceases to be as we learn new things and change our minds.

Today is my twenty-ninth birthday. This is what is true for me today.

My name is Kate or Katie depending on whether we’re related or when you met me. My favourite things to wear are pyjamas and a hoody. I used to be vegetarian and then I wasn’t.

The first time I kissed a girl was because I was drunk and mad at my boyfriend. But her lips were soft and she was beautiful and I can still remember what it felt like to hold her hips in my hands.

These days I identify as queer, and sometimes as polyamorous. I occasionally go on dates with people who aren’t my husband. Sometimes I become friends with his partners, and sometimes I don’t. In August, he and I are going on holiday with our girlfriend. I’m nervous about talking to my parents about this.

I’ll never stop listening to punk rock from the early 2000s. I eat omelettes topped with jam or a banana. I sleep on a different side of the bed depending on who I’m sharing it with.

When I was an artist’s model I wasn’t really doing it for the money. I enjoyed being naked in a room full of strangers.

I agree with my Mum when she asks me not to get any more tattoos while simultaneously planning the next one. I don’t know how I can explain how with every piece of ink I feel more at home in my body, and how blank skin is just a canvas waiting to be filled.

I like putting on makeup, and drinking sweet flavoured (non dairy) lattes from high street coffee chains. I’m usually thinking about clothing combinations, or something I want to knit or crochet.

I love my job, and I feel lucky that I’ve found an organisation that lets me be me.

I worry that I never got over my eating disorder, just replaced sticking my fingers down my throat with going to the gym.

Actually, I worry about a lot of things.

I feel guilty that my Mum is a full-time carer and I’m not able to help her. I don’t think I spend enough time with any of my family. When I do see them, I always feel like crying when I’m driving away.

I’ve accepted that depression and anxiety will always be part of my life but I think I’m getting better at managing my moods.

I want to have children but I worry about ruining their lives.

I have a compulsion to take off my shoes and paddle in every bit of water I see. I believe that ice-cream tastes better when it’s in a cone. I will walk for up to two hours to avoid taking a bus.

I have a small number of close friends who mean the world to me.

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Twenty Nine

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