As they clinked their champagne flutes the night of my birth, my grandmother asked my parents what I would be named. My dad pointed at the bottle and said, “Korbel… She will be sweet and bubbly like our favorite drink, so her name is Korbel.”
To commemorate the occasion, they even had a hairpin made using a champagne muselet cap, which I wear even to this day. So I grew up as “Korbel Genesis Len” in a world of elegance and poise. My parents were wealthy, though not to a staggering amount, and they raised me to appreciate all the gifts God had given us.
Thus, I attended a normal public school, be it a high-ranking one, instead of the expected private institution. I was also told very early on that I would be expected to earn my way into college; they would not allow me to go on their dime if my grades weren’t a least a satisfactory 3.0 GPA cumulatively. This was never a concern of mine as I exited high school with a perfect 4.0 and earned a full-ride scholarship to Hendon University in London, England. Thus, I could pursue any dream I pleased, and my dream was to be the next Coco Chanel.
My parents always felt I was born almost 75 years too late and that I was always destined to be a flapper girl of the roaring 20s. This came mainly from my style. I was immersed in the world of vintage couture. Everything from pearls to rose gold to cameo was a part of my closet portfolio.
I’d often revamp clothing to make it my own by purchasing thrift store clothes and subtly modernizing it. I even managed to change a 1980s disaster of lace, sequins, off-shoulder sleeves and overgrown bows into an adorable cocktail dress that I wore at my graduation.
Still, the thing that solidified my image as a flapper of the millennium came in my sixth grade. I was pretty well-liked for the most part, but I knew not everyone did. All through my early childhood and elementary years, I was known for my long, flowing blonde locks. I was often complimented on it, but it was mainly the product of a luxury foreign-made beauty regiment as well as light curling at night and before school.
Well, one day on the way to violin practice, a person saw me and was enchanted, giving me and my mom a business card and offering to make me a child model. The next day, I couldn’t help but tell my friends. However, a girl in my class wasn’t so impressed.
I didn’t hear her as she walked up to me, but suddenly my friends were gasping in horror, confusing me. I came to realize she had smeared her gum all over my hair going all the way up to a foot’s worth of my locks. I was shocked at first, but when the teacher called my parents in tears after several painful attempts to get it out, they determined that we had to cut it out.
I, then, knew exactly what hairstyle I wanted to fix it. Before the sunset, I was the generation’s own Daisy Buchanan, except hopefully with more brains than she was quoted to have.
At first, some people teased me if I wore my hair plain down, calling it “boyish”. However, as I held the style longer, my integrated hairpins, hats, and ribbons shut them up fast. Still, being the rich girl with a sparkling wine’s name came with a cost. Even though I wasn’t given special treatment at school, people still viewed me as the privileged, rich girl, and I’d gain friends with selfish motivations or had people avoid me, placing me on a pedestal.
I longed for true friendship but only glimpsed at it a few times. So when I left Napa Valley, California, I wasn’t surprised by the lack of a large bon voyage.
When I reached Hendon to finish registration and get my new student orientation packet, I was very hopeful that this was my chance at a more normal life and maybe some genuine friendship.