Leaning back; Falling in ….

10978537_10155149310885487_3913928171172768472_nI don’t share very often about feelings or experiences of love and romance in my life, but maybe, February 10th of each year will eventually become my typical day for exposition along such lines. It’s quite like me to want to publicly express myself through writing and art, yet still keep a certain cloak over what’s really there—revealing the form of what I feel and experience, without lifting the veil to let the features show….because it’s difficult to lay open the barest of my thoughts, feelings and emotions; I feel exposed, vulnerable, hardly a picture of perfection– and on occasion, repulsive. With time though, it becomes easier to reveal ‘the hidden’…but also, it often becomes more unnecessary to do so—a win-win situation if ever there was one. I’ve spent a long time worried that I’m destined to be alone, wondering whether ‘someday’ will again come when I feel loved in my ‘Kalifaness’. I spent years pondering on the ‘what ifs?’ What if I’m incapable of loving? What if I’m incapable of being loved? What if I never reach the point of emotional maturity enough to enjoy the beauty, and survive the challenges, of a relationship? These have been sobering thoughts, sometimes only barely missing the mark in becoming ‘depressing’ and stagnating, but…

‘Someday’ came. 🙂

….and now I smile every day in the continuing presence of the age which began on that day.

It’s wonderful, freeing and beautiful to have been caught and to be held; to have found (/been discovered by) someone with the strength and patience to catch me now that I’ve allowed myself to fall. Someone finds my me-ness attractive—as awkward, emotional, and sometimes contentious as it is…’pew boop boop boop’ >_< It’s wonderful knowing that. Though I know that we’re still in the ‘baby stage’ of our relationship, and my feelings of foofy-ditzy- joy should be expected to temper out, I feel at ease knowing that the foundation and instigation of it all was a great friendship and sincere, mutual care, concern and liking. Having him around has instilled me with a greater sense of peace and contentment that feels almost alien in its rarity—but the alienesque rarity of that feeling is exactly what allows it to feel and be so natural, so close, so real, so special. It’s comforting to be able to return/concurrently exchange the gifts of ‘supporting’, ‘appreciating’, ‘knowing’, ‘caring’, ‘laughing’; ‘loving’….and I hope to continue exchanging those gifts with him for a long time to come.

“We know the signs are too dark to see,
Close your eyes and lean in to me” –Mononoke

Year Review: Lesson learnt

10887157_10154956531155487_901112483155752360_oThe year is almost over. I feel obligated, to myself, to write this. There are only a few hours left in this little part of the world, to get this done. Here goes…
It, 2014, was one of my most challenging years, and also one of the easiest—and the heights and depths to which I rose and sank have helped make this past year beautiful, and edifying. We need things every once in a while, whether internally authorized or external surprises, to shake us out of our comfort zone. I’ve certainly been shaken. I’ve learnt a lot, experienced a lot, and I’d dare say that my new knowledge and experiences have fostered within me deeper and greater wisdom…and a fuller sense of maturity-socially, culturally, academically, romantically, spiritually.
After returning to Trinidad and Tobago a few months ago, having spent the majority of my year in the UK, a few of my friends said that I’d changed a bit. I don’t quite think that I have, much… certainly not enough for them to really notice after a short meeting.
Perhaps though, the ‘little(?)’ things that have happened have had a greater impact on me than I’m willing or able to admit. I’m more aware and appreciative now, than I was before, of human experiences beyond my own. I’m also more aware of who I am, what I want, what I like, what I dislike, where I want to go and that I can successfully function even more independently than I previously did. I think that those things translate into me being a bit less socially and culturally awkward, a bit more empathetic, a bit more confident even. I think that I grew an inch taller on the self-esteem/-efficacy chart.
I earned my MPhil this year, I’m supposedly a bit smarter—at least on paper; I’m one step closer to being a respected academic. Honestly, it doesn’t feel as big a deal now as it did before I started. Still though, I am proud of myself, and am glad that I have that degree in hand. I think that I weigh a few pounds more in scholastic street cred.
My heart has been put through its paces this year; my nerves have proven that they can withstand greater levels of anxiety, worry, excitement, curiosity, anger, frustration, joy and an extended period of seemingly unrequited longing. My being is quite at ease now though; I am happy. I’m much more able now, than I was at the beginning of the year, to enjoy the love and tension of a relationship. I think that I’m much more adept at choosing appropriate reactions, emojis, emoticons and nicknames.
I have a stronger belief and faith in God, and I think, a closer spiritual relationship with God as well. I’ve read a great deal and explored some wonderful pieces of philosophy and ideology. In various ways I have a clearer concept of what/who I think God is, and it’s been propelled by reading some of the most contrary pieces of literature, and entertaining some of the most conflicting ideas (to my own) that I ever have. I end this year in an interesting conundrum of sorts though, in that my deepened sense of spiritual maturity is coupled with a higher degree of religious turmoil; and also with a reduced faith in the realness of Christ–if only temporarily. I’m seeking though, and it’s been a breathtakingly beautiful journey. I think that whatever my consciousness is, has grown closer to being aware of itself.
I guess that I have changed, but I hardly think that it’s a regression—even if it may appear or feel so in various ways. There’s only so much we are aware of at any one time; but I believe that our capacity for awareness, love, and for seeing beyond the illusion of our ignorance and biases, grow with time, experience and thoughtful vacations from our cultural, intellectual and physical comforts. There’s so much that our hearts and minds filter out to make life livable/peaceful, and I am grateful for that… but above all this year, I think that I’ve learnt (or, rather, had it reinforced) that there is a great beauty in turmoil. There is a great deal of wisdom and strength to be gained in confusion, discomfort, hurt, rejection, betrayal, loneliness, entertaining the idea that ‘I am wrong, biased and ignorant’, by hearing new stories, feeling new pain, meeting different people…being cautiously irrational or contrary and seeking greater peace through discomfort. It seems that it is in this place of turmoil that greater wisdom and truth lie; it seems as though the greatest learning occurs when we allow tension to arise, when we dare to think that our lived reality is an illusion upheld by privileged biases.
May God grant me the grace to seek, to discover, to learn, to find, to be wrong, to fall and rise again, to love, to become a little less ignorant… as I learn more of who I am, what life is and what ‘is’.

Friends and Graduation

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Previously I thought that I’d retire this ‘Happenings’ album after leaving Cam. I didn’t think that there would be anything new to add to the story. But, there is. The break from the UK was far from clean. There’s a sizeable chunk of emotions and feels that remain there, and it’s been difficult thinking of England and the people there as just a foreign blob of land with foreign masses of people. England has come to feel like a second home, not in the least because I’ve grown to feel closer to a few of those ‘foreign people’ than I feel to many strangers and acquaintances in Trini. Also, I left my paint and a pair of shoes there…so, yeah…

I came back to Trini in August and have been working at a cool job in UWI since September. So at least 2 people were a bit confused to see me on the other side of Trinidad and Tobago Immigration and Customs yesterday.

I’ve just returned to Trini from a short trip to the UK. Yesterday I left Cambridge to head to the airport at 2:30am, got to Gatwick at 7:00am, and had to wait until around 11:00am to board the plane…which spent about 9 hours in the air en route to Trinbago. Anyone who spent Saturday evening with me knows how much I was dreading that time waiting around in the airport, and so it was nice when I met a secondary schoolmate (Valini) at Gatwick. She was also on the same flight as myself ^_^. I hadn’t seen her in ages, so it was wonderful to spend the hours waiting to board the plane with her.  When I got on the airplane, I saw another friend who was returning to Trini ( Teocah ). Upon touching down at Piarco I saw yet another secondary schoolmate ( Jamie ), in the Immigration line. I still find it weird to bounce up other Trinis that I know, by chance, in a foreign country….but it’s nice when it happens.

Anywho, I went to Cambridge to graduate…and to visit some lovely people—some of whom I might discuss in future rants. I now officially have an MPhil…yay!! They said all the Latin stuff, I walked up when they called my name, I held the praelector’s finger, knelt down in front of the guy sitting in on behalf of the VC, he held my hands together as I knelt and said more Latin stuff, I stood up and bowed, and then I walked out of Senate house where they handed me my degree certificate.  I didn’t graduate with distinction, but I got the marks for a high pass ^_^ I’m pretty proud of myself.  When next I post a group of grad pics, I’ll be in a PhD gown with Dr. written in front of my name. It’ll happen; Believe dat!!
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Picture: The pic in the top left corner is of me when I first arrived at Cam, the other 2 are from after graduation.:)

Caribbean in Cambridge

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The sun decided to shine brilliantly today. I think that it’s because four Caribbean people came together to lime: a Bajan, a Dominican, a Jamaican and a Trini. It was quite wonderful to spend some time with some fellow Caribbean students at Cambridge… to hear lively talk about Tessanne Chin and uncanned breadfruit. Hopefully it will happen again some time. 

It affects me

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I don’t enjoy talking about race, or colour, or slavery or colonialism…but it affects me. I know it does. I can’t pretend that it doesn’t, and so each time I write something like this I risk being seen as a ‘racist’. Maybe though, it’s a sacrifice that needs to be made for all of us to begin discussion, to try to see things from a perspective other than our own…so that maybe one day we can truly empathise, know, relate, love. So much more than back home I am forced to confront certain uncomfortable realities. So much more than back home I feel the need to write the things that I experience. I find myself in the position of not wanting to stir things up, to offend, or to create awkward situations, but also feeling like I need to share what I go through and how I feel if anyone is ever to understand or discuss; if change is ever to occur. We often go through life in glorified ignorance whilst declaring liberal intellectualism. We won’t know how far away we are from the truth if we’re always afraid to see it, hear it or confront it.

Since coming here I’ve had to face questions, on numerous occasions, like: 
“But why are things like that in Trinidad? Don’t Trinidadians have a native language and customs (that don’t have a connection to Europe)?”
I fully admit that I am highly uninformed concerning Europe/Europeans and so I like when people explain things to me and tell me about their experiences, customs, trials and lives. Similarly, I generally am happy to educate people on Trinidad and Tobago. However, it does get a bit frustrating to have to explain colonialism, and it’s effect, to people (some Europeans) whose ancestors did the colonising. I often feel like “You should know this!”
So many European people seem to be surprised at the fact that people in Trinidad and Tobago speak only English officially, and not some ‘native’ or non-English-dialect language…like many countries in Europe that have their own native languages, be it English (England), Spanish (Spain), Polish (Poland) or Dutch (Netherlands). Many also seem surprised that Trinidad and Tobago has European and East Indian customs. Usually, the conversation would end up on slavery, indentureship and colonialism in trying to explain why things are the way they are. The frequency with which I confront these questions has made me wonder what some Europeans learn about slavery and colonisation. It makes me wonder whether they learn of the effects it had on cultures and on people globally. It makes me wonder if they learn about it at all, especially in countries such as England, France, Spain, Portugal and the Netherlands.

I hear a question like: “Is that the island we colonized? (when trying to figure out where Trinidad is) I know that we colonised A and B. We also colonized X, Y and Z and they gave us L, M and N. *Smiles* It must be very convenient now that you speak English! *Smiles again*”
… and I think to myself, “Do many people really view ex-colonies as having ‘given’ them things as opposed to them having stolen it?” 
… “Do people really see the convenient gain of English and not the erasure of other languages and customs?”
… “Do people here really see themselves as having simply freed Caribbean nations as opposed to/alongside any acknowledgement that people had to fight for their independence?”
… “Do people here learn about the agency of the enslaved and indentured peoples, or do they learn of the Quakers and Wilberforce?”
… “Do people here teach their children about Africa and the Caribbean as being in constant need of a good saviour as opposed to/alongside why the global distribution of wealth is so skewed or of the fights and triumphs of the peoples of these regions?”

How is history taught in the UK, in Europe?
What do people learn?
How is the world presented to children?

I don’t know. Maybe my next project should be to find out. 
Either way, when I could sit down in different classes, right next to different white guys and not have them conveniently happen to choose examples to share, of black ‘inferiority’, then….
When I could talk to different people without Africa always being used as the example of all things poor, bad or backward, then….
When I could talk to someone and they are aware of some of these reasons behind inequality in the world, then…
…Then I will feel like maybe it’s time to talk less. Right now though, No… I’m not quite into sugar-coating.