That means I was Becky for the first thirteen years of my life. I still am to my family, or those old friends who know me through my family. I was Becky at primary school and in the first year at intermediate. When I was twelve or thirteen, my parents decided to send me to boarding school in order to stop me from getting into trouble all the time. I’d got into a couple of fights, and in with a group of saucy girls. My parents were called into school to discuss my behaviour with the Headmaster; I’d started to truant. Dad did what he always did: he threw some money at the problem.
We did the rounds of boarding schools trying to find the right place. There was one school where the girls glared at us aggressively and the classrooms were so cold they wore scarves and fingerless gloves. I didn’t go there. We finally settled on a small girls’ boarding school near Birmingham. It was a beautiful place. It’s now a hotel and wedding venue. I got married there.
Going to boarding school allowed me to become my authentic self away from a home that was problematic thanks to addiction, and the name Becca represents that authentic self. I discovered all my passions at boarding school and my expectations for life expanded beyond recognition. I know I’m privileged in that, and I’m very, very grateful.
The first week that I was Becca, I found a book in the common room. I can’t recall its title or the author but I remember that it was an adventure about time travel and a prophet. I read it obsessively.
Yes, it was an escape from a situation that was part trauma, faced with an old metal bed in a freezing dormitory and the sour faced matron, but something was ignited nevertheless. I found the school library and I read and read and read. What happens when you read? Your world expands.
Each time someone calls me Becky today, I’m 12 again, and everything shrinks.