For those of you that don’t know, over the last few months I’ve become a bit of a running enthusiast. With two 10k races coming up this summer, training is well under way, and part of this training is running the 9.5k journey home from work once a week. It’s a well-established fact that when you run home from work, a backpack is required (purse, keys, oyster card, clothes etc.), and this week mine decided to chafe. I mean, really chafe. I now have symmetrical marks on each side of my neck that look a lot (aka exactly) like hickeys. Fan-bloody-tastic.
Ah hickeys, those symbols of teenagerdom and fleeting romance. That internal struggle between wanting to cover them up but yet wanting everyone to know that you’ve got one. That glee you got from pointing out a hickey on a friend’s neck, squealing ‘who gave you THAT??’ in carrying tones. A hickey was part badge of honour, part rite of passage. And also part ‘ewww why did you let a guy bite you?’
In a weird way, my present non-hickey has made me slightly nostalgic for the real hickeys of my youth. Or rather, the simplicity of relationships back then. In my little boarding school bubble, everything was remarkably easy. You snogged a boy, you established that you liked one another, and hey presto you were boyfriend and girlfriend. Simples! There was none of this faffing about for months ‘seeing each other’ and then a really painful conversation along the lines of ‘where is this going?’ You’d always know if your boyfriend cheated on you because the whole school would know before you. Hell, half of my year knew I was going out with a guy before I had even been consulted. You knew a guy’s history before you’d had his tongue shoved down your throat (the annual ‘pulling tree’ drawn out by bored girls was a real help here), you saw each other every day, and when the ultra-meaningful three-week relationship came to an end (he kissed someone else/you got bored/he wouldn’t respect your lack of desire to give him a handjob) all you needed was a Bacardi Breezer-fuelled school disco to find your next snog sensation.
Of course, it was all terribly complicated and traumatic and dramatic at the time. The teenage years were littered with tears, fumbled attempts at ‘going all the way’, and year groups divided over whose side to choose in a break-up. There are certainly parts of it I don’t miss: where would we be if every drunk mashing of faces turned into a relationship? And thank heavens we aren’t forced to encounter the object of our (somewhat misguided) affections on a daily basis. Then there’s the gossip, the rumours, everyone knowing more about your relationship than you do yourself… Although having said that, some work environments can bear a striking resemblance to school in certain aspects.
Maybe I’m just nostalgic for the 17-year-old me. The girl who didn’t think that 90% of men are bastards, and who wasn’t going on endless disappointing dates. Sure, I had my fair share of teenage angst, but that was child’s play compared to what the last eight years have thrown at me. I distinctly remember one house party where I literally ran screaming out of a tent when my ‘boyfriend’ started to unzip his jeans and guide my hand to the terrifying thing that lay beneath. At the time I was mortified, but now I’m proud of Teenage Me for not doing something she didn’t want to do. You go girl!