edge

Body All Over the World, Soul in Trinidad Alone

My name is Nicole Huggins-Tudisco and I’ve lived out of Trinidad more than I have lived in it.

I come from Cascade, where I grew up with my parents, who were both from St Vincent. Before I was one, we moved to England, where my father, an engineer, did his architectural degree. Then we moved to Barbados. So I was off Trinidad from when I was just months old until I returned when I was six.

I have one sister, Nadia, 16 years younger. So, basically, I was raised as an only child until I was 16. By pure coincidence, not caesarean section, she was born on the same day as me. So I told her she stole my birthday.

My second husband, Bob, Roberto Tudisco, is Italian and we had a language barrier the first night we met. Luckily, vodka helped our communication. The vodka was key.

People always ask, “How you pronounce that name? Tue-dye-so?” I tell them, “Just pretend you’re going to dance: to disco”.

I went to Dunross Prep and St Cecilia’s, Bishop’s Centenary College, on Stanmore Avenue, but I don’t think it even exists any more. It was a private school but it was considered a sister school to Bishop Anstey.

Growing up in Trinidad was magical. It was a safe place. Long Circular Mall, the very first mall, was a liming haven for teens with the arcade games place, Games World. Roller-skating at one of the old school gyms – with a DJ playing – was a big thing on Fridays. There were regattas at the Yacht Club and private bring-a-bottle fetes supervised by parents. School bazaars where fun and popular.

I moved from Trinidad at Christmas time in 1989 to Mustique for a little over a year.

My father was raised Anglican and my mother, Catholic but neither of them went to church. When I was 11 or 12, I made the decision to go, with a couple of friends, to Assumption [Catholic church in Maraval] for myself. I was baptized as a child but didn’t do my “confirmation” until I had to, for my first wedding in the Catholic church.

I left Trinidad when I was 22 because my first marriage had come to an end and I hadn’t really done anything with my life. I had no children and was on my own. I wanted to start with a clean sheet and my parents were in St Vincent.

I worked on the sea for a few months, as the cruise director on an old seismographical vessel that looked like a tug that had been converted into a small cruise ship, only 20 passengers, picking passengers up in St Lucia and cruising just St Vincent & the Grenadines. It was more of a rootsy tour, drinking in rumshops and buying clothes from locals and so. That was the best time ever. I was going through a hard time. I’d lost a boyfriend I’d gone out with for two years. We had a pretty nasty breakup and then, two months later, he died. The ship allowed me an escape from that reality, the panic attacks and so. It was a healing for me.

I never lost my Trini accent. Ever. In St Vincent, everyone said, “Wow, you sound so Trini!” But that’s because I AM Trini. I’m proud to be a Trinidadian and never want to lose my accent. It takes us places.

I hated sports at school! I did everything possible to “not be there”! When I got to St Vincent, I had a lot of weight on and I had to lose it so I started going to the gym. Now I do boxing twice a week, yoga and meditation.

It wasn’t easy fitting in when I got to St Vincent. Everyone I met was much older or much younger than me. Either my parents’ friends or teeny-boppers. I chose the elder crowd. They had more to say.

I had my daughter, Zoe, in 1997 with a man who had been my very good friend a long time. I felt, “This is nice: my best friend is now my partner!” It didn’t work out but I got pregnant towards the end of the relationship. I left [him when I was] five months pregnant and never went back. Yeah, I’ve done things very back-to-front and very turbulent.

I have two children with two different fathers. Zoe is 21 and my son Valentino will be 14 in May. I’m very close to both.

I met my husband, Bob, in Canouan [an island measuring 3.5m x 1.5m in the Grenadines] when we were both working for the same construction company. I was in the HR department. He calls himself a Sicilian and, trust me, it gets him by!

I’m adventurous. If there’s an opportunity, I’ll go where the wind blows. I’ve lived in St Vincent, Trinidad, the UK and Barbados. As regards just pleasure travel, I’ve been to Italy, France, Switzerland, Canada, the States and many of the Caribbean islands.

Even though I’ve spent more of my life outside of Trinidad, I feel very Trini and I’m very patriotic. With both the good and the bad. Trinidad is so great, I don’t ever want to ditch my heritage. Even though I get heckled as a small-island breadfruit-picker [by other Trinis].

Wherever we go, as Trinis, our name is in everything. We’re in sports, we’re in beauty, we’re in the [NASA John F Kennedy] Space Centre, we killed Michael Jackson. We’re like salt and sugar, we’re in everything. When we go anywhere, when we speak, people stop us and ask, “Where is your sexy accent from?”

Anywhere in the world, without even speaking, Trinis stand out. You can recognise us just from the way we stand up.

I haven’t been to Trinidad since 2004 or 2005, when I was pregnant. I haven’t revisited, not because I haven’t wanted to, but because I’m very concerned about the crime. It’s just so accelerated and so apparent. If you’re on your own, it’s all right but, when you’re a parent, you have to think of your children.

I LOVE the beach. I love being in the sea. It’s the main reason my husband can’t get me out of the Caribbean. I love the simplicity of small-island life. I love that people are friendly and I love the ocean being everywhere. I can see it, I can hear it and I love having water all around me. Water is very important to me.

I respect everyone’s religion. But I don’t go to any church at all.

I believe in being a good person and helping people whenever I can. It takes no energy to be hospitable and I get a lot of pleasure out of that.

Bad attitude pisses me off across the spectrum. Bad attitude anywhere – in driving, going into a public space, the person you pass on the street. When people are all grumpy and looking angry and can’t even say, “Good morning”, that irritates me. I don’t understand why people don’t just smile and saying hello. It’s so much easier to do.

I miss a lot about Trinidad but food is always on the top of the list! I love how we can always pull a joke out of even an upsetting matter. Sometimes we can take things a little too lightly. But I love how we can put the rat race behind us and come together in pride to honour the best things about Trinidad. Like when we got into the World Cup, not like when we killed Michael Jackson – but, even that, we can take a kind of a pride in, in some sick, demented way.

I think something happens to us after we die. I don’t know what. I don’t think there’s a heaven and hell and you’re going to burn in a fire pit for eternity. I do believe in reincarnation in the sense that we come back as something – not necessarily as a person. We all have loved ones who have passed on and most people like to think we’re going to meet and be with them, somehow. I believe something good happens to us, somehow.

Every house I grew up in had a piano in it. I love music and I listen to all music, from classical to calypso. I do rock, jazz, soca, country, everything. But I like mainly old music because there was substance in it: the Doors, Elton John, Aerosmith, Aaron Neville & the Neville Bros, Jimi Hendrix. Janis Joplin is probably my favourite. Even the Carpenters and Fleetwood Mac, even the lighter [old] music was more substantial than anything from [the Nineties onwards]. The first song I’ve heard in ages that had some substance to it was Savannah Grass.

Going to Canouan was an eye-opener for me. It was an island I did not want to go to at all. I took a six-month job in construction there and that’s when my life really changed. That’s where I met Bob.

I learnt to make jewellery from the University of YouTube.

I don’t feel any real connection to Tobago. I haven’t been in a million years. I mean, it’s nice – but I’ve lived in St Vincent & the Grenadines and that’s my Tobago.

A Trini is a pure party person. Give Trinis a chance and they will turn Crix into a cocktail!

To me, Trinidad & Tobago means a tiny nation, compared to the rest of the world. And yet our personalities are wonderfully large! Even though I have lived away for many years now, I keep my little island close to my heart.

Body All Over the World, Soul in Trinidad Alone

My name is Nicole Huggins-Tudisco and I’ve lived out of Trinidad more than I have lived in it.

I come from Cascade, where I grew up with my parents, who were both from St Vincent. Before I was one, we moved to England, where my father, an engineer, did his architectural degree. Then we moved to Barbados. So I was off Trinidad from when I was just months old until I returned when I was six.

I have one sister, Nadia, 16 years younger. So, basically, I was raised as an only child until I was 16. By pure coincidence, not caesarean section, she was born on the same day as me. So I told her she stole my birthday.

My second husband, Bob, Roberto Tudisco, is Italian and we had a language barrier the first night we met. Luckily, vodka helped our communication. The vodka was key.

People always ask, “How you pronounce that name? Tue-dye-so?” I tell them, “Just pretend you’re going to dance: to disco”.

I went to Dunross Prep and St Cecilia’s, Bishop’s Centenary College, on Stanmore Avenue, but I don’t think it even exists any more. It was a private school but it was considered a sister school to Bishop Anstey.

Growing up in Trinidad was magical. It was a safe place. Long Circular Mall, the very first mall, was a liming haven for teens with the arcade games place, Games World. Roller-skating at one of the old school gyms – with a DJ playing – was a big thing on Fridays. There were regattas at the Yacht Club and private bring-a-bottle fetes supervised by parents. School bazaars where fun and popular.

I moved from Trinidad at Christmas time in 1989 to Mustique for a little over a year.

My father was raised Anglican and my mother, Catholic but neither of them went to church. When I was 11 or 12, I made the decision to go, with a couple of friends, to Assumption [Catholic church in Maraval] for myself. I was baptized as a child but didn’t do my “confirmation” until I had to, for my first wedding in the Catholic church.

I left Trinidad when I was 22 because my first marriage had come to an end and I hadn’t really done anything with my life. I had no children and was on my own. I wanted to start with a clean sheet and my parents were in St Vincent.

I worked on the sea for a few months, as the cruise director on an old seismographical vessel that looked like a tug that had been converted into a small cruise ship, only 20 passengers, picking passengers up in St Lucia and cruising just St Vincent & the Grenadines. It was more of a rootsy tour, drinking in rumshops and buying clothes from locals and so. That was the best time ever. I was going through a hard time. I’d lost a boyfriend I’d gone out with for two years. We had a pretty nasty breakup and then, two months later, he died. The ship allowed me an escape from that reality, the panic attacks and so. It was a healing for me.

I never lost my Trini accent. Ever. In St Vincent, everyone said, “Wow, you sound so Trini!” But that’s because I AM Trini. I’m proud to be a Trinidadian and never want to lose my accent. It takes us places.

I hated sports at school! I did everything possible to “not be there”! When I got to St Vincent, I had a lot of weight on and I had to lose it so I started going to the gym. Now I do boxing twice a week, yoga and meditation.

It wasn’t easy fitting in when I got to St Vincent. Everyone I met was much older or much younger than me. Either my parents’ friends or teeny-boppers. I chose the elder crowd. They had more to say.

I had my daughter, Zoe, in 1997 with a man who had been my very good friend a long time. I felt, “This is nice: my best friend is now my partner!” It didn’t work out but I got pregnant towards the end of the relationship. I left [him when I was] five months pregnant and never went back. Yeah, I’ve done things very back-to-front and very turbulent.

I have two children with two different fathers. Zoe is 21 and my son Valentino will be 14 in May. I’m very close to both.

I met my husband, Bob, in Canouan [an island measuring 3.5m x 1.5m in the Grenadines] when we were both working for the same construction company. I was in the HR department. He calls himself a Sicilian and, trust me, it gets him by!

I’m adventurous. If there’s an opportunity, I’ll go where the wind blows. I’ve lived in St Vincent, Trinidad, the UK and Barbados. As regards just pleasure travel, I’ve been to Italy, France, Switzerland, Canada, the States and many of the Caribbean islands.

Even though I’ve spent more of my life outside of Trinidad, I feel very Trini and I’m very patriotic. With both the good and the bad. Trinidad is so great, I don’t ever want to ditch my heritage. Even though I get heckled as a small-island breadfruit-picker [by other Trinis].

Wherever we go, as Trinis, our name is in everything. We’re in sports, we’re in beauty, we’re in the [NASA John F Kennedy] Space Centre, we killed Michael Jackson. We’re like salt and sugar, we’re in everything. When we go anywhere, when we speak, people stop us and ask, “Where is your sexy accent from?”

Anywhere in the world, without even speaking, Trinis stand out. You can recognise us just from the way we stand up.

I haven’t been to Trinidad since 2004 or 2005, when I was pregnant. I haven’t revisited, not because I haven’t wanted to, but because I’m very concerned about the crime. It’s just so accelerated and so apparent. If you’re on your own, it’s all right but, when you’re a parent, you have to think of your children.

I LOVE the beach. I love being in the sea. It’s the main reason my husband can’t get me out of the Caribbean. I love the simplicity of small-island life. I love that people are friendly and I love the ocean being everywhere. I can see it, I can hear it and I love having water all around me. Water is very important to me.

I respect everyone’s religion. But I don’t go to any church at all.

I believe in being a good person and helping people whenever I can. It takes no energy to be hospitable and I get a lot of pleasure out of that.

Bad attitude pisses me off across the spectrum. Bad attitude anywhere – in driving, going into a public space, the person you pass on the street. When people are all grumpy and looking angry and can’t even say, “Good morning”, that irritates me. I don’t understand why people don’t just smile and saying hello. It’s so much easier to do.

I miss a lot about Trinidad but food is always on the top of the list! I love how we can always pull a joke out of even an upsetting matter. Sometimes we can take things a little too lightly. But I love how we can put the rat race behind us and come together in pride to honour the best things about Trinidad. Like when we got into the World Cup, not like when we killed Michael Jackson – but, even that, we can take a kind of a pride in, in some sick, demented way.

I think something happens to us after we die. I don’t know what. I don’t think there’s a heaven and hell and you’re going to burn in a fire pit for eternity. I do believe in reincarnation in the sense that we come back as something – not necessarily as a person. We all have loved ones who have passed on and most people like to think we’re going to meet and be with them, somehow. I believe something good happens to us, somehow.

Every house I grew up in had a piano in it. I love music and I listen to all music, from classical to calypso. I do rock, jazz, soca, country, everything. But I like mainly old music because there was substance in it: the Doors, Elton John, Aerosmith, Aaron Neville & the Neville Bros, Jimi Hendrix. Janis Joplin is probably my favourite. Even the Carpenters and Fleetwood Mac, even the lighter [old] music was more substantial than anything from [the Nineties onwards]. The first song I’ve heard in ages that had some substance to it was Savannah Grass.

Going to Canouan was an eye-opener for me. It was an island I did not want to go to at all. I took a six-month job in construction there and that’s when my life really changed. That’s where I met Bob.

I learnt to make jewellery from the University of YouTube.

I don’t feel any real connection to Tobago. I haven’t been in a million years. I mean, it’s nice – but I’ve lived in St Vincent & the Grenadines and that’s my Tobago.

A Trini is a pure party person. Give Trinis a chance and they will turn Crix into a cocktail!

To me, Trinidad & Tobago means a tiny nation, compared to the rest of the world. And yet our personalities are wonderfully large! Even though I have lived away for many years now, I keep my little island close to my heart.