edge

Heartaches & Headaches

My name is Emma Hanna Andrew and I haven’t seen my parents since 30 March 2019.

My parents, Colin & Janine, will see me “in the papers” in Newsday before they see me in person at Piarco. Literally. I hope to be back in Port of Spain on 9 August.

My only sibling my sister Monique, is two years older but there’s no down side of being the second child. But I really wanted to have a younger sibling. Because I think I would be a better older sister than Monique. She’s a good older sister. It’s just I would have been better. No younger sister rivalry in saying that. Really don’t think so.

I spent the first ten years of my life in Petit Valley and the next ten in Maraval. So I say I’m from Port of Spain. I’ve been in Europe, mainly Spain, for the last two-and-a-half years. By myself. Occasionally with Monique in London.

We lived in in a townhouse community in Petit Valley, a bunch of kids all the same age but I’m only close to one now, Alexa Brash. In Maraval, the houses were bigger, and not so close together. I liked the personal space. But I missed being really close to friends.

Monique and I would put on plays. Well, Monique would put on plays. And tell me what to do.

I would say I’m agnostic. I was baptised in Christianity, did first communion but decided not to do confirmation. Everybody was doing confirmation. But not Monique. It was kind of my dad’s influence because we would all be going to church and I would say, “Why does Dad get to stay home?” I didn’t understand what the priest was saying. Like, I mean, at all!

Grace before meals is kind of confusing. Yes, I’m thankful for food – but do I need to put that in God’s name? I could get behind a grace before meals that said, “Thank you, everything that died, so that we could continue living.”

This teacher was telling us this amazing story about this guy who worked really hard to turn his life around. And then, at the end, she said, “This is all because of God!” And I was, like, “WHY would you teach kids that? Why can’t it be of his own doing, his own self-motivation that he was able to conquer [addiction] and do something amazing with his life?”

I have good memories of Dunross Prepartory, my first school. [Because] I like being by myself. Some of the kids, I just knew they cared about things I didn’t care about. And they were very cliquey. I’ve made friends [as a grownup] with some people I wasn’t friendly with at Dunross. But not close.

I didn’t do SEA, just went straight into the British Academy. Really small classes and everybody was accepted for being different. So I kinda felt the same. The teachers, like Sarah Garcia, my French teacher, and Miss Ali, Spanish & French, were really good.

I’d just turned 18 and my mom was passing through Glasgow and I was at home in Maraval, in pyjamas, my hair crazy, when the phone rang. My mom said, “This lady says you can live with them if you want.” I said, “Okay, I don’t know who these people are, but cool!” Best decision I ever made in my life. Ever. I spent three months in Glasgow with a family I never met before, doing art courses and working two jobs. They weren’t relatives, just friends of my aunt, but Katherine & Brian Woods are like a second mom & dad now.

I didn’t [finish] A’Levels because I have chronic migraines due to occipital neuralgia, nerve damage in your neck, which caused migraines every day for the two most important school years of my life. I was crying at school, missing out words in essays, really unhappy. Especially since people expected a lot of me. On the third day of my second term at A’Levels, I broke down.

I told my parents I was going to drop two of my four subjects. To see if it was easier. My mom knew it was coming. She saw it on my body, I guess. And I’d already got into my school in Spain [for September]. So I spent two months at home [with headaches]. Then went to Europe.

I have headaches all the time. Every single day. For five years.

I have a headache right now.

My headache [origin story] is actually funny. I was on a two-week film scholarship in Oxford and they had a circus-themed graduation. And they had a game where you threw coconuts at cans. One guy overestimated by A LOT and the coconut hit me in the back of the head. I didn’t pass out. But I was kinda stupid for an hour. They were trying to make me not fall asleep.

The university called my dad and he answered his phone on the way to Maracas Beach. He was, like, “Emma! You went all the way to the UK… to get hit in the head with a coconut?” I was laughing but… As a child, I had always suffered from headaches, from preservatives [in foods], from smells… But this made it really much worse.

Because it’s connected to my neck injury, as soon as I look down, I get a headache. And you have to look down at your books as a student.

Headaches last all the time. They just go to different levels. They make everything even harder.

I’ve been to doctors, neurologists, chiropractors, physiotherapists, acupuncturists, osteopaths and tried a bunch of meds. I’ve had X-rays, cat scans, EVERYTHING. No one has been able to pinpoint ANYTHING. They don’t know how to help me anymore.

I tried direct lidocaine injections straight into the area, which put your nerves to sleep. It was supposed to work instantly and last three-to-six months. The month-and-a-half after that injection was the worst I ever had. I was crying every day, all day long, because of it. I thought it was going to help. It made it even worse. I was, like, “What the fuck am I going to do now?” I’ve literally tried everything.

I wouldn’t wish these headaches on anyone. I’m usually very optimistic. But I don’t think the headaches will stop anytime soon.

I live in a small mountain town called Mondo, maybe 3,000, mainly old Andalusian people. And half the population is from my graphic design school. I’ve made the best friends ever there. I have one more year to go.

Spain is beautiful but you have to learn some Spanish because no one speaks English. I learned some. I can understand it way better than I can speak it. Andalusian Spanish, the accent is very heavy, very lispy and they speak very, very fast. And very loud. You have to scream at them. And I talk quite soft. In English.

I’ve done a lot in the last two years which I’ve enjoyed a lot. So I have nothing to complain about really. But I would like to go home. Because it feels weird not to go home for so long. You kinda lose a bit of yourself.

I’ve not been back to Trinidad since I left. I was fine with that for the first, like, year-and-a-half. I was enjoying myself. I was fine, my parents were fine, my sister was fine. Then covid happened and [not having] the option of being able to go home is what made it worse.

Seeing my family is more important to me to than “going home”. But I do think you lose a bit of your culture when you’re not at home. Especially if, like me, you’re in a place where there are no other Trinis. In London, there are A LOT of Trinis and other Caribbean people. In Spain, I might be the only one.

I don’t let myself get excited about the thought of going back to Trinidad. Because it’s happened so often that I almost got to see my parents and then didn’t! Multiple times! So now I just make sure I have really, really low expectations. And have dropped my excitement levels very low. Three weeks ago, I was supposed to have been home already. So it will only be when I’m actually on the flight to Trinidad and have left Barbados behind that I will accept, “Okay, I’m going home now!” And let my emotions flow.

The best part of being away from home for so long is I’ve made my own little family. I’ve made really good friends. And have had really good experiences. The bad part is having to deal with my head alone. I don’t like asking for help at all from anyone. I’m a do-it-yourself person. It’s [especially] hard to ask people who aren’t family to do things for me. Family will look after you before they look after themselves. I’ve really needed that recently.

Being away, I’ve come to think Trinis are very warm, colourful people, compared to a lot of other cultures. I’d choose the word “colourful”. And I love being a Trini. I love the childhood I’ve had. So much experience from so many cultures, from everyone all around you.

The whole world should just be Trini. Because we are a little bit of everything.

To me, Trinidad & Tobago is not so much home as sanctuary. It’s where your mother can sap your head. But Trinidad is also scary, too. I don’t feel totally safe there. Especially as a girl. I feel freer and more safe away. You can’t feel independent if you don’t feel safe. I wish I was a guy when I’m in Trinidad.

Heartaches & Headaches

My name is Emma Hanna Andrew and I haven’t seen my parents since 30 March 2019.

My parents, Colin & Janine, will see me “in the papers” in Newsday before they see me in person at Piarco. Literally. I hope to be back in Port of Spain on 9 August.

My only sibling my sister Monique, is two years older but there’s no down side of being the second child. But I really wanted to have a younger sibling. Because I think I would be a better older sister than Monique. She’s a good older sister. It’s just I would have been better. No younger sister rivalry in saying that. Really don’t think so.

I spent the first ten years of my life in Petit Valley and the next ten in Maraval. So I say I’m from Port of Spain. I’ve been in Europe, mainly Spain, for the last two-and-a-half years. By myself. Occasionally with Monique in London.

We lived in in a townhouse community in Petit Valley, a bunch of kids all the same age but I’m only close to one now, Alexa Brash. In Maraval, the houses were bigger, and not so close together. I liked the personal space. But I missed being really close to friends.

Monique and I would put on plays. Well, Monique would put on plays. And tell me what to do.

I would say I’m agnostic. I was baptised in Christianity, did first communion but decided not to do confirmation. Everybody was doing confirmation. But not Monique. It was kind of my dad’s influence because we would all be going to church and I would say, “Why does Dad get to stay home?” I didn’t understand what the priest was saying. Like, I mean, at all!

Grace before meals is kind of confusing. Yes, I’m thankful for food – but do I need to put that in God’s name? I could get behind a grace before meals that said, “Thank you, everything that died, so that we could continue living.”

This teacher was telling us this amazing story about this guy who worked really hard to turn his life around. And then, at the end, she said, “This is all because of God!” And I was, like, “WHY would you teach kids that? Why can’t it be of his own doing, his own self-motivation that he was able to conquer [addiction] and do something amazing with his life?”

I have good memories of Dunross Prepartory, my first school. [Because] I like being by myself. Some of the kids, I just knew they cared about things I didn’t care about. And they were very cliquey. I’ve made friends [as a grownup] with some people I wasn’t friendly with at Dunross. But not close.

I didn’t do SEA, just went straight into the British Academy. Really small classes and everybody was accepted for being different. So I kinda felt the same. The teachers, like Sarah Garcia, my French teacher, and Miss Ali, Spanish & French, were really good.

I’d just turned 18 and my mom was passing through Glasgow and I was at home in Maraval, in pyjamas, my hair crazy, when the phone rang. My mom said, “This lady says you can live with them if you want.” I said, “Okay, I don’t know who these people are, but cool!” Best decision I ever made in my life. Ever. I spent three months in Glasgow with a family I never met before, doing art courses and working two jobs. They weren’t relatives, just friends of my aunt, but Katherine & Brian Woods are like a second mom & dad now.

I didn’t [finish] A’Levels because I have chronic migraines due to occipital neuralgia, nerve damage in your neck, which caused migraines every day for the two most important school years of my life. I was crying at school, missing out words in essays, really unhappy. Especially since people expected a lot of me. On the third day of my second term at A’Levels, I broke down.

I told my parents I was going to drop two of my four subjects. To see if it was easier. My mom knew it was coming. She saw it on my body, I guess. And I’d already got into my school in Spain [for September]. So I spent two months at home [with headaches]. Then went to Europe.

I have headaches all the time. Every single day. For five years.

I have a headache right now.

My headache [origin story] is actually funny. I was on a two-week film scholarship in Oxford and they had a circus-themed graduation. And they had a game where you threw coconuts at cans. One guy overestimated by A LOT and the coconut hit me in the back of the head. I didn’t pass out. But I was kinda stupid for an hour. They were trying to make me not fall asleep.

The university called my dad and he answered his phone on the way to Maracas Beach. He was, like, “Emma! You went all the way to the UK… to get hit in the head with a coconut?” I was laughing but… As a child, I had always suffered from headaches, from preservatives [in foods], from smells… But this made it really much worse.

Because it’s connected to my neck injury, as soon as I look down, I get a headache. And you have to look down at your books as a student.

Headaches last all the time. They just go to different levels. They make everything even harder.

I’ve been to doctors, neurologists, chiropractors, physiotherapists, acupuncturists, osteopaths and tried a bunch of meds. I’ve had X-rays, cat scans, EVERYTHING. No one has been able to pinpoint ANYTHING. They don’t know how to help me anymore.

I tried direct lidocaine injections straight into the area, which put your nerves to sleep. It was supposed to work instantly and last three-to-six months. The month-and-a-half after that injection was the worst I ever had. I was crying every day, all day long, because of it. I thought it was going to help. It made it even worse. I was, like, “What the fuck am I going to do now?” I’ve literally tried everything.

I wouldn’t wish these headaches on anyone. I’m usually very optimistic. But I don’t think the headaches will stop anytime soon.

I live in a small mountain town called Mondo, maybe 3,000, mainly old Andalusian people. And half the population is from my graphic design school. I’ve made the best friends ever there. I have one more year to go.

Spain is beautiful but you have to learn some Spanish because no one speaks English. I learned some. I can understand it way better than I can speak it. Andalusian Spanish, the accent is very heavy, very lispy and they speak very, very fast. And very loud. You have to scream at them. And I talk quite soft. In English.

I’ve done a lot in the last two years which I’ve enjoyed a lot. So I have nothing to complain about really. But I would like to go home. Because it feels weird not to go home for so long. You kinda lose a bit of yourself.

I’ve not been back to Trinidad since I left. I was fine with that for the first, like, year-and-a-half. I was enjoying myself. I was fine, my parents were fine, my sister was fine. Then covid happened and [not having] the option of being able to go home is what made it worse.

Seeing my family is more important to me to than “going home”. But I do think you lose a bit of your culture when you’re not at home. Especially if, like me, you’re in a place where there are no other Trinis. In London, there are A LOT of Trinis and other Caribbean people. In Spain, I might be the only one.

I don’t let myself get excited about the thought of going back to Trinidad. Because it’s happened so often that I almost got to see my parents and then didn’t! Multiple times! So now I just make sure I have really, really low expectations. And have dropped my excitement levels very low. Three weeks ago, I was supposed to have been home already. So it will only be when I’m actually on the flight to Trinidad and have left Barbados behind that I will accept, “Okay, I’m going home now!” And let my emotions flow.

The best part of being away from home for so long is I’ve made my own little family. I’ve made really good friends. And have had really good experiences. The bad part is having to deal with my head alone. I don’t like asking for help at all from anyone. I’m a do-it-yourself person. It’s [especially] hard to ask people who aren’t family to do things for me. Family will look after you before they look after themselves. I’ve really needed that recently.

Being away, I’ve come to think Trinis are very warm, colourful people, compared to a lot of other cultures. I’d choose the word “colourful”. And I love being a Trini. I love the childhood I’ve had. So much experience from so many cultures, from everyone all around you.

The whole world should just be Trini. Because we are a little bit of everything.

To me, Trinidad & Tobago is not so much home as sanctuary. It’s where your mother can sap your head. But Trinidad is also scary, too. I don’t feel totally safe there. Especially as a girl. I feel freer and more safe away. You can’t feel independent if you don’t feel safe. I wish I was a guy when I’m in Trinidad.