If you're just here for the fashion flashback and grunge-to-gladrags model story, you can skip this post and go straight to Discovered.
If you're also interested in the more emotional background details and the demise of the Bad Boyfriend... read on.
If you're bored, try this!
As the end of my high school career approached, I had no idea what I wanted to do next. Despite wearing a lot of black and being semi-permanently attached to the lips of my Bad Boyfriend, I was still a straight A student. Getting into university wouldn't be a problem, deciding what to study at said university, was. Gripped by indecision and knowing that Bad Boyfriend would never get accepted with his struggling grades, I decided to take a gap year. We would both get menial jobs at the local mall while we figured out what next. Stellar plan.
The year rushed to an end. We attended our Matric Farewell (something like prom, without the booze and sex, in my days at least) and made it through to our final exams. I spent a lot of time coaching Bad Boyfriend, helping him study, sharing my notes. He was a terrible student at the best of times, bright as button and sharp as a knife but too rebelliously obstinate to realize that by messing up at school he was only punishing himself.
MM at the Matric Farewell. I'm almost starting to like my outfit again. The corset straps were shortened so that absolutely not even a hint of cleavage would be visible, at all, ever... Kind of defies the object of a corset, no? I've never, ever taken style advice from a boy again!
Because we had different subjects, my exams would end a couple of days before his. On the day I finished my last test after twelve years at school, a switch flicked in my mind.
I was tired. Dead tired of the emotional drama and intensity of our relationship. Bored of being told what to wear and who to speak to and completely over having no social life and no fun. I made up my mind to break up with the Bad Boyfriend, just like that.
But I had to wait. I couldn’t possibly break his heart while he still had an exam to pass; that would be too cruel. Besides, I had no doubt that he would sabotage himself in some way when I left, and I didn’t want his not finishing high school on my conscience. So I patiently waited and deceived my way through three days of pretense. Because I didn’t have Business Economics, Boyfriend had to study on his own and his mom wouldn’t let him see me until he was done, so luckily it was only over the phone that I had to continue the charade.
When he came to visit me straight after his final exam, I was ready. I’d been going over our relationship and all the things that I’d given up, and there was no way I was backing down. I knew he didn’t know how to be any less controlling and possessive and I knew that I had to be free. I was eighteen; with all the options and opportunities in the world before me, and it was time to do what was right for me.
Bad Boyfriend was understandably shocked and upset and it took many hours of talking, crying, arguing, some destructive threats and actions but eventually he understood: I was moving on and he couldn’t follow where I was going.
At the same time my Dad’s company announced that he’d have to relocate to a different province, permanently. My Dad gave me two choices: move with my family, to a small town in the middle of nowhere where I wouldn’t know anyone, to ‘enjoy’ my gap year there, or enroll at university and live in student housing. I started ferociously studying course brochures, trying to pick a degree. I tried to imagine myself as a marine biologist, a nature conservationist, a librarian, a lawyer or an entrepreneur, but I just couldn’t see it. Finally my Dad said: “Cookie, it’s simple, what have you always wanted to do?” In a heartbeat I answered, “I want to be a movie star”.
So it was settled. Thanks to my good grades I was allowed late enrollment at the University of Stellenbosch and I would start studying towards my Drama degree just two months later. Till then, I had a summer of single fun in the sunshine before me. I was ecstatic.