Whether it’s a blessing or a curse, I am not usually possessed of an obsessive personality. Perhaps it’s due to my kiwi upbringing; here in New Zealand, emotional inarticulacy is rampant, and feelings are kept tightly under wraps. Excitement is expressed via a nod, a grunt and a dose of self-deprecation. Tall poppy syndrome is the national affliction. I don’t mean to impugn my nation’s psyche, but under such emotionally repressed conditions, it can be hard to express giddy excitement in any meaningful way. So, in embarking on my first crush, I was rather late to the party. But what a party it was!
My international peers spent their collective halcyon youth sighing over Orlando Bloom as Legolas (which incidentally I never quite understood — Mr. Bloom, you are very pretty, but what was with the bleached hair and dark eyebrows? It was peculiar to say the least), but in my case, the first stirrings of romantic ardor didn’t arise until 2005. I was fifteen years old and budding. And brooding. I was toeing the awkward line between sullen goth and sexually precocious teenage girl. My attempts to reconcile rapidly spreading hips and breasts that wouldn’t stop growing with black combat pants and Dead Kennedys t-shirts resulted in my looking vaguely ridiculous for a few years. I’m not constructed for androgyny, I fear. Doffing my school uniform, every afternoon I would change into my floor-length black lace skirt and switch on channel four, New Zealand’s lacklustre answer to MTV, and park myself in front of my computer. One afternoon, tapping away at my keyboard (coding HTML, of course — I was an odd girl), and listening to the week’s new releases, I heard something that spoke to my melodramatic, teenaged soul.
It was the gritty, industrial sound of Nine Inch Nails’ The Hand That Feeds that caught my attention. I was absolutely enraptured. Somehow, in between Rihanna’s Pon de Replay and Gorillaz’ Feel Good Inc., I had found my siren song. The tune grabbed me bodily, and I found myself dancing in the living room, black skirt asway and eyes fixed on television’s fuzzy image of Trent Reznor. I fell immediately in love.