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Life Is Too Short To Drink Bad Wine: 22 - A Swan Emerges

Although only sixteen, Gayle Woodward thinks she has found the man with whom she could happily spend the rest of her life.

As I readied myself for my training as a teacher, Christmas came and went. There was no holiday trip to Muriwai for me this year as my friendship with Marian cooled. We still talked on the phone but my spare time was taken up with Woody.

In January he came on holiday with us to Onetangi. I felt rather strange and shy about him living in the same house as me but it was fun to go on long walks with him and to swim together. He went fishing with Dad and fitted in well to our family. He joked with Mary, was polite to Mum and got on extremely well with Dad.

I, on the other hand, was very shy when introduced to Woody’s parents. They appeared to me to be rich, with a large, well appointed house looking down on Lake Pupuke in Takapuna. Woody’s father, Frank, drove a brand new and large sedan. They had ‘drinks’ and friends came to their house for ‘nibbles’ A household so different from ours. But I was determined to cope with anything and accepted they way they were.

Woody and I had a few arguments in the early years of what would prove to be a very long relationship. These were etched with jealousy on both our parts. I was writing to one of the surfers from Muriwai who had joined the Air Force and Woody had been seen with a girl from Carmel College.

The Catholic girls held a great mystique for boys from an all- boy’s school. We would decide to ‘break up’ with great drama and crying on my part. It never lasted. We would have reconciliation phone calls that would last for hours and our ‘making up’ was very tender and romantic. Mum was worried about the intensity of the relationship and tried to get me to limit the phone calls. I stubbornly resisted. When she refused to let me use my own phone to talk to him, I would make the excuse that I was going to the local shops, but instead phone him from the red public coin box phone at the shops. Once, she suspected what I was doing and followed and found me in the act. Sprung! I found what I thought was an invasion of my privacy intolerable, and stormed off home, using a different route through the Anglican Church grounds, to her.

I thought that I knew by now that this man was the one with whom I could happily spend the rest of my life. I was still only sixteen and the opinion of my family was that I was too young to know my own mind and should be concentrating on my studies and my teaching future. But he was in my every thought, even when I was studying or sleeping. We spent all free times together. He would bus from Takapuna to Glendowie, a double bus trip and long. We would spend the weekend together and then he would catch the late bus home again. Mum got used to including him in our casual Sunday night dinners at home. I wrote in 1966, aged 17:

All too soon, the holidays were over and in the February of 1966 I began attending Auckland Teachers College in Epsom. We were put into classes with girls whose surnames were at the beginning of the alphabet A to G together with those of the end of the alphabet, P to Z. Same with the men, of which there were few. We were mainly all young women.

In this way, I met Carol Parkes and Margaret Pilbrow who had been at school together but now became my friends. Susan Bellamy was another new friend from the beginning of the alphabet. I thought it was great that Susan also had a steady boyfriend and was not looking slyly at the few men in our classes as other girls did. It was a rude awakening to tertiary life when in the Commons area at the first lunchtime the air was filled with smoke as student after student lit up. I could see by looking at second year trainees, that we should dress quite professionally but have our hair long and possess a duffle coat to cover the fancy outfits when we went outdoors.

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