Make New Friends, But Keep The Old..

March 11, 2011
“One is silver and the other is gold.”

If you’ve ever sold a Thin Mint or a Peanut Butter Patty you probably finished off the rest of this Girl Scout jingle without even struggling to remember. As a 6 year old Brownie I used to roll my eyes as I was forced to hold hands in a circle with the other girls in my troop and sing this song. Again. For the 50th time. I mean really what’s the big deal with new friends anyway? Will my new ones not make me sing this song because if so I’m all for it! However, once I left home in South Carolina and started moving every few years, I began to learn how new friends would make my life richer than I could have ever imagined.

When I started telling people that I was going to Trinidad, they would immediately ask, “Who are you going with?” At that point I would pause and try to think of something appropriate to say besides “These chicks I don’t really know like that,” because I mean, who does that? Who runs off to an island to dance in the street for 8 days with mobs of people who have unreasonable access to unlimited alcohol with people you “don’t really know like that?” I mean I kinda sorta knew them (not really for real for real) and collectively we had never done anything together. These weren’t my sorors, crew, homegirls, line sisters, “Brooklyn Dorm buddies” or any other circle that I’m known to hang with. So I described them awkwardly as “these girls I know” because it took a while for me to get it.

And after I had exchanged over 600 emails with these girls excitedly planning out our trip and taking Gmail’s thread feature to a new heights of insanity, sadly, I still didn’t get it. After we deposited hundreds of dollars in each other’s bank accounts without a day’s notice for parties some of us had never been to, I didn’t get it. And even as we stood on the street outside of our first party in Trinidad at nearly 1 AM trying to scrounge up enough money between the 5 of us to buy a ticket from a scalper for one of us who ended up without one, I still didn’t realize who “these girls” had become. But as four of us stood on the beach in Maracas Bay yesterday, cheering as one of us performed African dance moves in front of a steel pan band,  I realized “these girls I know” – Cass, Mel, Nik and Sim – were those new friends I had been taught about as a Girl Scout.

As Cass timidly got up from her beach chair and walked over to the drummers behind us it was clear that the steel pans had stirred up a dance in her spirit and her effort to contain it due to the crowded beach was futile.  As she twisted her hips and flung her arms into the air, we clapped and cheered as a crowd gathered to watch her impromptu dance performance. Her body was an extension of the drums, and the beat flowed seamlessly from the steel pans up through her feet and into her flailing arms as she mesmerized the crowd. Her energy was contagious because as she exited the circle, Sim entered with her own unique rhythm and style we had grown to recognize over the week, winding and twisting to the drums and pushing the energy even higher. Instead of entering the circle & making a hot fool of myself I remained on the sidelines, capturing video and beaming as they drew compliments, photographs, and free drinks from the crowd.

It was the perfect ending to an experience that I still have not found words to properly describe. 10 years from now when my (non existent, not-on-the-way, calm down Daddy) daughter finds the photos on the family computer of Mommy dancing in the street covered in chocolate baby oil, I probably won’t dwell on the details of my carnival experience. I can’t really explain dancing in a stranger’s water hose on the street at 5 AM or tearing the skin off my leg trying to climb a moving truck to rest my feet for the infamous stage. I can however teach her to make new friends, but keep the old because one is silver and the other will help you off the ground when the skinny boy trying to showboat for his Trini friends can’t hold your weight and drops you in the middle of the street at Carnival. Gold doesn’t get any better than that.

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  • Reply Julienne Brown March 11, 2011 at 6:36 pm

    Dang Tracey! Every trip (including Ghana) there is always a post that makes me want to cry! This is it girl! I'm soooo glad you ladies met and you do such a great job with recapping the moment.

  • Reply Sim March 11, 2011 at 6:51 pm

    awwww….I love it! And crop me out that video…b/c I got wayy too caught up in the music and forgot what the heck I was doing…lolol 🙂

  • Reply Kevin Morgan March 13, 2011 at 12:29 am

    Nice one! I am and always have been a proud Trini but reading your blog does give me a greater appreciation for my culture and carnival. When you have it you can take it for granted but this is not my case. I really do understand the greatness of Trinidad’s Carnival and how it reflects the spirit of the people. However my sense of familiarity leaves me immune to the deeply impacting nature of our Carnival on a new comer. You have allowed me to get a much closer to that experience through your word and develop a greater appreciation for the world’s greatest carnival.
    Thank You Tracey.

    Hey and for the record the instruments on the beach were Tassa and not Steel Pan.  Just so u know.

  • Reply melody March 14, 2011 at 1:13 am

    Awhhh trace this is such a great post! Even though I'm a "veteran" I must say this year was magic…TNT2k11 get ready…

  • Reply Dani March 14, 2011 at 4:21 pm

    I was just glad to meet my gchat friend, lol. It was great to meet you, seems like you had quite the experience!! This was my best carnival yet!

  • Reply Trini Orisha Gyal March 14, 2011 at 11:53 pm

    While reading this I laughed my ass off, got overwhelmed with emotion, choked up, and cried all in a space of five minutes.

    While I travel to Trinidad every year with my best friend and number one wining partner, my husband, this year was different. I hooked up with a group of girls who I did not know from a can of a paint.

    Like you, they were not my sorors, my sands, my old dorm mates, or childhood buddies…but some girls I picked up along the way via another friend who happened to included me in a very entertaining carnival related gmail thread. I can say without a doubt that this group of women helped to make this already stellar carnival season a unforgettable one filled with beautiful memories.

    So BIG PROPS to all of the new friends of the world, and thank you for sharing your memories.

  • Reply Tracey Michelle March 16, 2011 at 8:00 pm

    Awww thanks guys! I'm so glad you guys were touched by this story. I had to share it to remind myself and others the value of meeting new people who keep your spirit energized and refreshed throughout life. These girls gave me (hilarious) memories that I will tell my grandkids and I'm so happy to have been a part of this experience.

  • Reply Fab March 27, 2011 at 8:07 pm

    Wow. I had no idea that you gals didn't know each other "like that." What an amazing experience to share together. This post was hilarious and beautifully written. You go gyrl. Get ready for Carnival 2012!!!

  • Reply What a Difference a Year Makes- Brooklyn Travel Addict February 18, 2012 at 1:47 am

    […] year ago I would have been a little sad for my new friend, who I “didn’t really know like that”,  but was happy to travel to Trinidad with her since she was a veteran and I was a newbie. […]

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