Do you wish you had a different name? Do you feel like your name really does belong to you? I never used to feel close to my name, especially when I repeated it about 20 times in a row, it always sounded so strange (I was a strange kid). I used to dream and play games in my head and always wanted to be called Geraldine. Weird. My father had a younger cousin called Geraldine who lived in Kariba, Zimbabwe. She came to Cape Town to study at UCT and lived with my grandmother (who lived over the road from us). I was probably 10 years old at the time and Dalene and I spent a lot of time with my gran, so we saw a lot of Geraldine. She was beautiful, had olive skin and the most beautiful smile. She played the guitar and was my hero. I used to watch her getting dressed up to go out and she would put some of her very pale pink lipstick on my lips. She wore a very musky perfume which she bought at the Hippie Market in town. I loved her big earrings, bangles and hippy style dresses and shoes (like above). I wanted to be her. She was a free spirit with long, unruly hair (and I think she was a bit wild too as my grandmother had many sleepless nights during those years). She graduated and moved on but always kept in touch with my grandmother.
When I travelled overseas on my own in 1980 to the UK, I looked her up and she invited me to come and stay for a couple of days (I had a parcel for her from my gran). She had an Australian boyfriend and they managed a pub in London. A very dicey pub in an industrial area. I helped out for a couple of evenings but it was all men and rather rough so I had to head up to my room early as glasses got smashed and fights broke out.
I was so looking forward to reuniting with her because she was always such fun and kind to me when I was young. However, after spending a couple of days with her my memories were shattered because she was pretty mean and nasty, she thought that I was keen on her boyfriend, she screamed and shouted at him and their staff and all in all it was a visit I wish I had not made. I was homesick and being with her made me miss home even more.
I made up a story and left 3 days earlier than planned and carried on my travels.
This was when I realised that people aren't always what you remembered them to be and that I did not want to be Geraldine anymore. After all, Jennifer is a far nicer name than Geraldine.