I am 37 years old. I have two children, work full-time, am permanently stressed and wonder where I’m going in life. I am a mid-life crisis waiting to happen. So what better thing to do than visit a far-flung country, sans kids, in order to “find myself” with a little help from some patronizing cultural stereotypes?
So I’ve been in Barbados for a week now. Here are the things that I have learned about myself:
- I like swimming in the sea early in the morning (when I say swimming, I mean wading about smugly, gazing at palm trees and thinking “this is the life” in a highly contrived manner – but it’s pleasant, all the same)
- I know now what my true priority in life is – having another baby (this is because I found out on Facebook that yet another friend is having her third and I’m jealous. Sod all to do with Barbados itself, but still – I had my epiphany here)
- I enjoy beer, hot weather and listening to squeaky tree frogs (tbh, I knew the first two already but the last comes as a surprise)
- I do not enjoy sitting in air conditioned offices with people who are really, really annoying in exactly the same way that people back home are really, really annoying. Not all people, just the annoying ones. Turns out they get everywhere.
- I only have to see a cosmetics store called Caribbean Queen once – once! – and it’s enough to get that shit Billy Ocean song stuck in my head for the rest of the week
- I like rum cake (and yet, when I don’t have Billy Ocean stuck in my head, it’s the Boomtown Rats with “tell me why I don’t like rum cake”. I don’t know – perhaps Bob Geldof really doesn’t like it, but I do, anyhow)
Plus, the extra-weird thing I discovered about me:
- I used to go to school with someone who now goes out with Carol Vorderman (I first learned this somewhere over the Atlantic while reading Reveal, but I think it still counts as a Caribbean revelation)
I am wondering whether all this knowledge can be padded out into an Eat Pray Love-style self-discovery type thing, then I can sell the film rights and get enough money not to have to go back to the UK (I’d bring my partner and kids out here and then write some kind of sequel about my brave decision to set up home in a place that readers will, deep down, suspect is a bit uncivilised, hence the thinly-veiled xenophobia in adjectives such as “brave”).
Anyhow, that is the plan. I have 24 hours in which to execute it, otherwise I’m flying home – but flying home as a newly confident woman who knows herself. A woman with self-knowledge – and shitloads of rum.