Keep on pretending…
I met my old Guide leader on the way to the local library’s Reader’s Group this afternoon. She was a big part of my life as a teenager.
I joined 1st Immingham Guides in 1994 and was there until 1999, had a year off then joined 3rd Immingham Guides as a Young Leader in September 2000. The leader there had also been my Brownie Leader. I was a Brownie for about a year to eighteen months, just as they were changing from the original brown dresses to trousers, t-shirts, jumpers, cullots etc. See this page for the uniform. My sister joined a year before and wore the 1967 uniform, I wore the 1990 uniform.
It was a fun time – for a given value of fun – and Wednesday evening Guides was a small dose of freedom from the horrors of being an introverted, intellect driven, geeky teenager in a town like this. We learnt odd skills, like how to make jam or arrange flowers, how to make a fire and cook on it, and how to kayak.
Personally I just liked swimming in the river after I inevitably capsized.
We went to Poacher in 1996. That’s an international Scout and Guide camp held at Lincolnshire Showground every four years. Somehow our leader got her toothpaste and heat gels mixed up and cleaned her teeth with the heat gel one morning. Camp stories are the best stories. We went to various other camps and adventure centers. One time we went to an adventure centre in Derbyshire and spent one of the days climbing in the Peak District. I spent most of the day under a rock enjoying the view and hiding from the sun. It was a very hot day and I do not do well in sunlight.
So, my old Guide leader moved away about a decade ago. Her husband was the local Anglican vicar for thirty years. He was responsible for Christening my sisters and me, and all our cousins. He was also responsible for the Confirmation lessons we had (this is pre my polytheism decision), though the Bishop of Grimsby actually performed our Confirmations. When the reverend gentleman retired they both left town, moving to one of the villages. They’d been here for thirty years at that point, as I said, so they’d seen us (my sisters and me) grow up.
And that’s a problem. When someone who has known me a long time sees me now they expect me to be as I was then. The only problem is the me they know was either a hyperactive child or a scared adolescent putting on a mask of excitement and happiness.
Now, not so much. The mask is too heavy to wear anymore, but my default reaction around ‘my old people’ is to be the cocky, hyper kid they remember. I find they struggle to accept my depression and anxiety, they don’t like my politics, and I can’t discuss religion, among other things, at all.
So I keep pretending with the people of my past.
And I don’t want to any more.