Baby David: And How I Miss Him
Now, this is not going to come as a surprise to anybody who knows me in reality, but I feel pretty bad for myself. I’m a big fan of carrying my very own personal crucifix up the hill, and yes before you ask, I do think my problems are bigger than yours. Miserable, home-owning baby boomers will say it’s because I’m a millennial, or because I’m spoiled by new technology (they are almost always referring to Microsoft Excel when they say this), but honestly I think it’s because I’m self-aware. Throughout my life I have always been aware of myself, even when I really didn’t want to be. Family members bring up stories to me as if they are talking about another child that I grew up with; though I almost always think that they are bringing up those stories to embarrass me, or to diminish me in some way. I’m aware that I once paraded around every class in my primary school and gave a (stellar) performance of Part of Your World to all of my fellow pupils in exchange for an Ariel figurine from my favourite dinner-lady Rose (rest in piece, beautiful soul). I’m aware that I would sit at the bottom of the stairs at my Grandad’s house in Nottingham and sing What If by Kate Winslet with the kitchen door closed because I was theatrically vocal-shy. None of these things embarrass me, at all. My family retell these stories with a cringing face and giggly speech patterns, and I feel as though I’m expected to bow my head and beg for forgiveness for being an expressive and rambunctiously camp child. Like I said, always had a crucifix to carry, but I think back then it was a little more bedazzled than it is now.
My memory is probably not like yours. I don’t remember years of my life, or holidays to Wales where 15 of us would squat in a Bronze level caravan sharing the same tin of beans. I don’t remember visiting my Nan in hospital when she had been diagnosed with a brain tumor and would give scathing reviews of everybody’s appearance from an over-used hospital bed in Fazackerley. I don’t really remember anything at all about being a child. I’ve been told it’s a symptom of PTSD, maybe from when my mum died pretty suddenly, I’ve also been told it could be from a serious and chronic bout of depressive and dissociative episodes I’ve had since puberty. To be honest, it’s probably the booze. My point is this, I don’t remember much at all about being a child but I do remember the stories that people so desperately aim to make fun of. I would spend hours on end in my own world, fighting real life demons and talking with people in front of me who actually weren’t really there. Except they were, to me.
I guess if somebody was to ask me what I was like as a child, I would just begin to tell people how violently bullied I was and how left alone I always felt. Obviously being a bit of a porker and being blessed with an incredibly luminous blonde bowl-cut did me no favours, but the other kids around me seemed to really hate me. And if they hated anything more than a blonde fat kid, it was a blonde, fat and gay kid. Not just gay. Really gay. Limp wrist, slight lisp, obsessed with crisps. Thankfully, my brain has removed all the most violent and disturbing memories for me, but I do remember a lot of it. I had a regular torturer, a punter in the bar of Shame of David, who would wait for me on the corners of the cul-de-sac, like a werewolf in the shadows who would lunge out and try to rip me to pieces. He had a group of friends, I guess now I’m older I’d say they looked a lot like a really shit tribute to N-Dubz. But back then, they looked like rabid dogs, with saliva dripping from their mouths and glowing red eyes. I can’t begin to count the amount of times they would punch me, throw rocks at me, even a firework once.
But that didn’t stop me. I managed to create blind spots for them in my mind, I would scooter past them, Walkman on blast and leave them raging in my dust. Eventually I just stopped going outside. Instead, I became friends with my computer. I would research lyrics to songs I’d never heard and create my own melodies. I would talk to people on Myspace from all over, and flirt with boys from overseas. I now know that a couple of them could be arrested for the sexual and gratuitous nature of our conversations, but I loved it. I had a community. People would still post bulletins with candid pictures of me they had taken from around school, and they would post blogs about how ridiculously fat I was. “Fatty Gibbo” one person referred to me as, which seemed to stick for a short amount of time.
I don’t mean to dwell on the violence I received, there was even more that I won’t go into. I just get mad at my own memory sometimes. A person can send me an email that signs, “regards” instead of “kind regards” and I’m spiraling. The cashier in Spar can ignore my jokes and point towards the card machine without replying to me, and I’m looking for the nearest dual carriage way to jump on. A boy can like my Instagram selfie, but ignore my message, and I’m bed bound for two days in complete darkness. I think I know why I’m triggered so easily, and it’s because I never really felt liked by anybody. I guess I sometimes still don’t. Even my friends at school, I never felt like they really liked me, and most of them I didn’t really like myself. I love my friends now, I would die for them and I would jump in front of a rainfall of bullets for any one of them. But I still don’t feel like they like me. When my family recount these stories, I think to myself, yikes, did you ever really like me or think I was funny, or do you just think I was embarrassing and need punishing by telling me this story?
But here’s the thing, I liked me. I never hated myself like all of my torturers did. I liked playing swingball by myself when I was 11 and singing along to Kelly Clarkson like Yuna from Final Fantasy X-2 in a dressphere. I liked how I would watch Bette Midler movies and laugh like a banshee. I liked that no matter the abuse, no matter how much I bled, I still got back up and carried on moving. Since growing up a little, I’ve hurt my own relationship with myself. I tell myself, you’re ugly, you’re a fat disgusting mess, you better clean up your flat tonight you grotesque pig. And while I’m still not able to fully look in the mirror or be photographed by somebody else (we will get to this, as soon as therapy becomes available on Klarna), I think I need to get back that part of me that baby David had. The inner strength or I-don’t-give-a-fuck-ness that seemed to just radiate from me without any spiritual practice or daily affirmations. I know he didn’t feel loved or noticed back then by his family or friends, but he noticed himself, and he was fine with it. I wish I had that now but I’m glad he did back then, or things could have gotten much much worse.
To conclude, as I’ve rambled enough now, I just wanted to tell little David, wherever he is listening, that I think he was a star. Nobody else was or could have been as brassy, as sassy, as quietly cool and weird as you were. Whether people saw that in you or not, as I know you like to be one way with people and one alone (you’ll stay this way, don’t worry), I saw you, I noticed you, I loved you. And if you were here with me now, I would give you the biggest hug, because you deserved to feel more loved than you did. My crucifix might be heavy now, but yours was much more fabulous. Here’s to you, kid.