January 17th 2022.
It’s been two months on the island of Barbados, and already I have celebrated so many occasions. Christmas, Old Year’s Night, Republic Day, and now my very own birthday. Here’s how I spent my birthday in Barbados.
The week prior to my ‘big day’ I had an indirect Covid exposure which left me feeling quite anxious. I would equate it to the overwhelm I had felt in July of last year when I re-emerged into society. It certainly wasn’t the best ‘pre-birthday in paradise’ feeling.
On flying out to Barbados I held the secret wish of celebrating the day on a catamaran. I even packed my sparkling bikini that I’ve never felt bold enough to wear, just in case I did feel bold enough to organise such an event.
Ever the dreamer, I had envisioned myself taking in music, sun and rum on the open blue seas. Unfortunately, life events had rendered me blue myself. It’s sad to say, but I really was not looking forward to turning 29. Though, not because of the typical concern about getting older. This time around, I was just not really in the mood to celebrate.
Fortunately, I’ve got some lovely people out here that wouldn’t abide by me staying inside and looking at my four walls. They insisted, “I had to do something“.
My happy place here is ultimately the beach. Whenever I feel overwhelmed or have a challenging day, that’s where I go. With that realisation, my mind was made up. I invited my BIM crew to my favourite sandy shores intending to have a chill afternoon in the sun and do absolutely nothing.
The clouds threatened that plan.
Having enjoyed, up until this point, weeks of pretty much wall-to-wall sunshine, I was dismayed when I opened my eyes on my birthday. What greeted me were grey cloudy skies and torrential rain. As if one of the two weren’t enough.
‘Typical’, I thought – I could have easily been at home in London. A wry smile crept onto my face despite myself. I was reminded of the year I ran away to the Dominican Republic for birthday sun and spent a week getting rained out instead.
For one of the first times since being in Barbados – I checked the weather forecast.
It didn’t look good.
Messages flooded in asking about backup plans, but that was just the thing. I hadn’t planned for a backup.
Actually, I neglected to factor the weather into my considerations for the day at all. Comfortably assuming there would be sun – a little thing I’ve come to take for granted living on a Caribbean island. Technically, it is winter right now despite consistent temperatures of 30 degrees.
My brain churned desperately trying to brainstorm alternative birthday plans that rain would not impact, but this was to no avail. That’s the one thing about being here, most restaurants and bars are open-air to some capacity. This means, if the weather is bad, you really oughta’ just stay in your house!
The morning ticked away quickly until the meeting time of 2:00 pm when it was time for the make-or-break decision.
To beach or not to beach?
It was genuinely minutes to the meeting time when the light at the end of the tunnel appeared.
My heart lifted as I watched the heavy clouds part and the sun emerge to dry up the puddles that had been prevalent all morning. Leaving behind the absolutely perfect beach afternoon.
The afternoon was glorious.
Low-key and perfect. Surrounded by good company and Massey bags full of snacks and drinks, I donned my sparkling birthday bikini after all and had a wonderful afternoon.
Part of my normal reluctance to celebrate my birthday is feeling responsible to make sure everyone has a good time. More often than not, this self-inflicted pressure stops me from doing anything.
This year, it was truly effortless. Other than packing the cooler (which I thoroughly enjoyed) I didn’t do anything except tell people which beach to assemble on. The celebration was low maintenance and as a result, I limed and soaked in the atmosphere.
It was so beautiful to be still and see the people I know and love here interacting with one another and also getting on so well. My BIM girls and I laughed, shared stories, sang and danced into the night.
Exactly what the doctor ordered and the most wonderful tonic to how I had been feeling.
I genuinely couldn’t have asked for a better day.