I was 14 years old when the biggest changes to me happened. I remember it like it was yesterday. How could any girl forget? It all started just a week after I got back from boarding school. I was 3 years into my journey as Hannah. I found a note in an old shoebox full of things from my teenage years, I guess this is what really triggered me to write my story down.
“Hi future me!
I’ve just had the most amazing summer EVER. I met some incredible people, Rob being one of them! I worked hard, most days in a restaurant. Do you remember it?
If you find this in a few years time, don’t forget what happened!
ps. I’m going on my 3rd date with Rob tonight ;)”
Well, Rob became my lover for many years, but there is more to the story than that. So we will leave it at that for the moment.
So, a week into being home from boarding school and I was getting bored out of my mind. The sun was really beating down and all I did was lounge around in the garden in a bikini that Sophie had handed down to me. It was very ill-fitting, the reason behind that was because my parents had never started me on hormones as such, but I had been on testosterone blockers for the past 2 years in a bid to slow down puberty without making too much permanent damage, just in case I changed my mind.
I had finished my 3rd year of boarding school with more friends than I ever had in primary school, I was better behaved and I felt comfortable in my skin & clothes. Don’t get me wrong, the first time I wore a longish vest top, leggings and some ugg boots (a present from my parents after coming home from the first year of boarding) I felt pretty much naked and scared that people from my old school would recognise me. But within a couple of weeks of being Hannah around my home town I soon felt comfortable.
Back to when I was 14. My family had accepted me as Hannah, and although they always said “you can always change your mind” we all knew by then that it would not be happening. I was Hannah, and I would remain Hannah for a very long time. After lounging around for the second weekend of being home my Mother had decided enough was enough.
“It’s time you found yourself a job young lady. You need to earn money, all these hand me down clothes are all well and good but you could do with some proper fitting things. How about we go do a bit of shopping and see if there are any waitressing jobs going at the same time?”, she asked.
I don’t think it was ever an option, if I am honest. My Mother was always a very authoritative figure, she had this way of asking questions that would get her the answer that she wanted. So I guessed that I was going to be finding a job in a restaurant or pub somewhere in town. I wasn’t wrong.
We had been in the shopping centre for around 30 minutes before Mother started looking at her watch, as if she had to be somewhere urgently.
“We need to get you to the salon”, she said.
“What do you mean? The salon? Why?”, I responded knowing exactly why we were going there.
I had no real style to my hair. It was just long hair with a side parting. Sometimes I wore it in a ponytail, but that was about it.
I never put a fight up, afterall, I was a 14 year old girl, and being pampered was something that I had talked about with the girls at school for months! I knew exactly how I wanted my hair, again, I had dreamed about it for ages.
I left the salon about an hour later, with the perfect haircut that I had wanted for the past year. I had hair that fell just below my shoulders when I walked into the salon. It was thick and straight. When I left the salon I felt like a princess. I had it layered, and had a fringe that if brushed over my eyes would end in line with the bridge of my nose. It was perfect. The fringe wasn’t meant to cover my face, far from it, I wanted the line of my parting to curve over my forehead. That was all. And it looked amazing. Mother never really commented much, she described me as her “beautiful princess” and left it at that.
We went around to a few shops, a bounce in my step compared to before. We went into one of the high street chains and looked around for some clothes. I wasn’t really sure what I was looking for if I am honest, Mother was leading the way with this. She pointed out a few things here and there but nothing really made me feel anything. I was a little nonchalant. Until I walked past a dress. It was on a manikin, and looked gorgeous.
The dress was coral in colour, and flared from the waist. The manikin had a white ¾ length sleeve cardigan on also. Mother saw the look on my face and knew that I wanted it. The horrible thing was she didn’t tell me anything at this point and just continued to walk past. We left that store with nothing and continued on to a few others. We bought a few essentials, some tights, strappy tops and the like but nothing that was past the basics.
I was feeling pretty bored by this point, that dress was something I really wanted, but couldn’t really see what I would wear it for. I just wanted to feel pretty. The denim skirt, leggings, ugg boots, t-shirt and hoodie were comfortable and I did feel pretty, but just not the same kind of pretty. If that makes sense. Mother could see we were going to get nowhere and decided that we should go and get some lunch in one of the many restaurants just outside the main shopping area of the town.
My favourite place to eat as a kid was a family run pub, called “The Monks Rest”. It was a traditional pub in every sense of the word. In the winter the fire would be roaring and that smell of burning wood filled the air, in the summer the beer garden was perfect to have a lunch. Even as a kid I loved the atmosphere. As we walked through the door that familiar scent of real ale and real wood fire filled my nostrils, I guess nostalgia had kicked in. Mother and I took a seat in the beer garden and ordered our lunches. We chatted about all sorts of things, and giggled about how cute the waiter was.
Before we knew it over an hour had passed, and we had hardly got any outfits for me to wear. Let alone a job. As we headed out of the pub I noticed a sign. It simply read “Staff wanted. Waiting staff required for lunch, evening and weekend work. Would suit student. 14 years plus. Full training given. Apply within”. I left my mobile number and name with the cute waiter who mother and I had shared a few giggles over just a few minutes earlier and headed out.
“Well, perhaps we should find you something suitable to wear for working in a pub or restaurant. Seen as that is what the whole point of coming into town was”, mother said. All I could do was nod.
For the rest of the trip we bought a few skirts and a couple of pairs of trousers, in black, a couple of black ¾ length sleeve shirts and also a black cardigan. It felt like I was preparing for a funeral. And trying on just black was quite depressing, it made putting on the navy hoodie & skirt seem like I was wearing the brightest outfit you could possibly wear.
I never expected to get the first job I applied for, as a 14 year old, who would? Mother and I split up for a bit, she suggested I looked for some work on my own and that we meet up in 30 minutes time. Before she left she gave me £70 and said that if I found something I wanted that I should get it with that, but not to buy any more clothes. So off I went.
I wandered aimlessly around the centre of town for 10 minutes or so, looking in every shop window for job adverts, it felt pointless. Most places had their staffing for the summer. I stood outside of La Senza and stared at the bras inside for a good 5 minutes, there was no point in going in, I had a flat chest, I looked like a very tall 9 year old.
I didn’t buy anything with the £70 I was given, and offered it back to my mother who said she would load it onto a VISA PrePay card and that I could use it to buy whatever I wanted with it online, if I so wished.