I have been called many things in my lifetime. Not all of them good. This weekend just passed, I attended my 20 year high school reunion and had the interesting experience of being reminded of an old self.
Many years younger than the woman who nowadays introduces herself oh-so-confidently as Rebecca Bloomer; Becky Bloomer was a different kid altogether. To start off with, she had much more hair; long, thick, curly, dark hair that fell well past her shoulders. She was the girl often picked on because she lacked a trendy wardrobe on free dress days (lack of funds often overrode fashion sense). She spent a lot of time on train stations and at bus stops; sometimes for legitimate reasons like going to and from school, other times for less…purposeful undertakings. That’s what I recall of her anyway.
At the school reunion, I learned a couple of other things about Becky Bloomer from people who remembered her for the strangest reasons. Becky Bloomer, for example, was Chris Helsdon’s first slow dance. She knew that Chris Richards was not the alien he claimed but rather, a timelord. She was the last conversation Mark Smith had while in school uniform. Oh yeah, she fell pregnant to the librarian’s son (I don’t recall who remembered that snippet but there you go). There were a couple of familiar things about her though; she was brash, optimistic, and smiley. I am very glad that those things remain true of her.
Nowadays, I am alternately, Rebecca Bloomer, the contemplative academic, romance and young adult author. I am Mummy, the one who apparently never had a life before my children knew me. I am Bec, the sister, friend and lover who listens, laughs and knows when to leave. I am Miss, the teacher who scowls and roars almost as quickly and often as I laugh, joke and jig.
Beneath all of those women though, as a kind of template, there is Becky. She never took the easy path, she flatly refused to conform and to this day, she doesn’t seem to fit comfortably within any given demographic. Upon becoming reacquainted with her in these last couple of days, I have to say, I recognise her now, in myself and also in my books. She’s the smart mouth in Willow Farrington Bites Back, she’s the sense of irony in Mae-be Roses and in my upcoming book Foley Russel and That Poor Girl, she is the precocious kid who would really just like to be the same as everyone else. In all of my romances, she’s the woman who is much more than she appears on the surface.
Looking at Becky Bloomer from this perspective, she’s not so cringe-worthy (despite the big hair and lack of co-ordination), in fact, I’m feeling really quite happy to have her back.