Getting the visa somehow marked the end of the turbulence that began two years ago. As Bo hugged me after opening the package my mind flashed back to the day I found out I was pregnant… the turmoil…when I got fired, interrogated, made to leave the UK, got set up with my job in Trinidad. All those tears. But maybe its because I was focusing on the negatives. In any case, for those reasons it was great that I got the visa – a new chapter. There were so many positives too though – family, friends, support, sunshine! This meant that I’d have to start a new life again and leave everyone behind again. But:
“Comfort zones are where dreams go to die.” – Unknown
And I will never let my dreams die. So I decided it’s time to start milking the last few weeks at home before the new reality hits. Really unsure whether to laugh or cry that it was Carnival season and I left THREE DAYS before the absolute bliss of it all – but definitely took advantage of it. The fetes, the music, the pan, the vibe that emanates from the people. The excitement, the joy – it just can’t really be explained. It’s a feeling that you have to experience for yourself to truly understand it. Kind of like how everyone who hasn’t had a baby thinks that they need to do it au natural but those of you who have had a baby just know. USE. THE. DRUGS.
The experience begins from the time the Carnival season starts (December 25th, midnight) and basically this is your life for the next two months, until Carnival actually, finally arrives:
Step 1. Choose carnival fete
This decision is based on: Price, all inclusive/cooler fete, performers (Machel or no Machel), location, weekend/weekday and finally… night/morning fetes.
At this point you have either spent way too much money on an all-inclusive party and know that the rest of the outfit preparation has to be a borrows cause your pocket buss…OR you’re going to a cooler fete in which case you can buy a little (literally) mediocre priced outfit and good alcohol…OR you got a comp in which case you can spend the ticket equivalent on an outfit, wee! There’s some math involved. Or maybe you just have money to burn and you can do whatever you want…and I say props to you.
Step 2. Choose outfit
This decision is based again on who is performing, how much you want to drink and most importantly how badly you plan on behaving. Are you a Machel wine an fling it up hardcore carnival baby or are you more the Kes type? You describe all of this to the sales clerks at the clothes store, show them exactly how you would like to wine, along with a few other imperative details and no doubt they will choose the perfect outfit for you, girlfriend. Sometimes you will get your math wrong and realize you’re now in serious monetary deficit but you offer it up to the Carnival Gods and deal with it later – cause no one needs that negativity in their life.
Now in my opinion, nothing compares to a morning party despite not being a morning person whatsoever. My eyes pop open at 2am excited for what is to come. Wee! From the ponging out of Soca on your phone while you shower to get in the mood, and then quietly wining in the dark singing in your head, so as to not wake up the child, it start. All this as you put on your new top and pum pum shorts that are specifically for Carnival fetes because they just wouldn’t be appropriate in any other setting. Then you have to prepare well by not taking anything important because everything gets stolen, so you designate one person to take a phone, some cash and organize the cooler with the labelled plastic bottles. Because you don’t want to mix up vodka and water. Or maybe you do. Then you stop for ice and chaser on the way to the fete so it’s now 3am, the roads are pumping, and the shop is rammed out full of people heading to the same party. The outfits are totally incredible and I always stare in awe at how some people got these things on, whether they will ever be able to get them back off, what will pop out when they wine… and when they see me staring I smile and they smile back because EVERYONE IS SO HAPPY. Why can’t it always be like this?! Because Carnival is magical.
Step 3. Choose next Carnival Fete.
It’s like a big reunion, you see people you haven’t seen in years, some who you finally get to see again and of course the ones you hoped you’d never see again but that’s Trinidad for you. You can’t escape anything. Not the people, not the rumors, not the terrible driving lol. Anyway! Nadia Batson couldn’t have said it any better in her song “So Long”…she put into words what you would usually feel in a Carnival fete but be unable to express. I guess that’s why she’s a song writer and we are not. Unfortunately I can’t describe too much more of the experience accurately because things begin to get a bit blurred a few hours in, but it literally can be one of the greatest times. So all I will say is to go for it. You won’t regret it once you understand that leaving the fete may bring an overwhelming sadness that can only be topped by the sadness at the end of Carnival Tuesday. Fortunately for me, I missed out on it all which isn’t as bad. Ish.
Anyway – the last month had some feting, lots of rushing and extensive amounts of worrying. Rushing to find flights and trains, rushing to organize my clients before I left, rushing to the bank to deposit tiny sums of cheques which I hoped somehow added up to something useful. Worrying about the future, about my son, about my dog, about whether I’m smart enough for this (mummy brain seems to have lingered on longer than expected). Worrying about lawyers fees because when you’re a single parent that’s an inevitable and very high bill that you will be faced with. But the day came and while I felt sad – sad to leave my kids, sad to leave my family – I finally felt a sense of purpose again.
And that’s what keeps me going.
Before we left, savoring the sun was crucial because of how depressing the weather can be in the UK so we were out and about, going up and down chancellor – which is like the best place to go if you’re ever feeling a little down and out – because guaranteed someone will make you feel good about yourself. There will also be the ones who you hear saying “we can’t let the girl with the pram beat us” in which case you run until your lungs burn to prove them wrong and end up feeling even better about yourself. I’m only competitive when someone else starts it, swear lol. We went to Tobago, watched sunsets on Maracas, explored the Caroni Swamp like some true tourists and had an amazing end to a tumultuous few years. Together 🙂 My dream team.