1996. Onehunga, Auckland. I had just moved to a new city to live with my dad for the first time since I was six years old and was navigating the brand new world of a co-ed high school (that’s mixed-sex.. boys AND girls. My mind was exploding).
This photo was taken at one of the first parties I had ever been to. It was at Abbey’s house. Her parents were away and she had a boyfriend at University who once said that she was his ‘partner in crime’, a phrase that made me long for someone to say that to me. Abbey had a platinum pixie cut and wore cooler clothes than anybody I had ever seen outside of a magazine. I was a party rookie. Before moving to the big smoke, I had only been to all girl sleepovers except for one brief appearance at David’s house where I stood awkwardly against a wall with his friend Toby while my friend and David eyed each other up. I had never smoked a cigarette or tried weed and got drunk on half a glass of wine. Before 1996, I was a girls’ school girl; when it came to boys, sex, and alcohol I felt like I was on the outside, looking in.
This photo is the first picture my husband and I have together. Yes, that’s us – him with his shoulder length knotty hair and suede jacket, and me with my – yes, Snoopy t-shirt with denim over the top. It was the 90s so my eyebrows are overplucked and I’m wearing a cute little clip in the side of my slightly too long pixie cut. My husband taunts me with this photo every now and again because I look so weird in it. It’s true – you can see our personalities even though they were still being formed at that tender age of 16. He’s the clown. I hate the camera.
We met at Alex’s garage party where there was a keg of Lion Red and Pearl Jam on the stereo and I told him that I only liked surfers… but then talked to him all night. I wore a leather jacket much like the one he wears in the photo, and brown lace-up boots. After that night, we were going out. He bought me an ALF phone. We went camping together. He tried to make me comfortable in his “cool group” full of musicians, pretty, extroverted girls, and kids who were anti-establishment. It didn’t work. I overheard one of them in the dark room at school pondering our relationship, saying, “I don’t get it. She’s not even pretty.”
The thing that happened in high school that changed my life forever was meeting my husband. Beat that.