Monday, February 23, 2009
It’s officially Carnival; in the wee hours of the morning, the Mayor of Port of Spain had them fire off the cannons and we were off to two days of official revelry. Jouvert, or day open, from the French, this is Carnival Monday. Though I am inveterate mas peong; I love all things Carnival, Jouvert is my favourite time. As a child it was one of those things denied because of the dirty overtones, I suppose that’s what makes it so appealing. The forbidden.
I love Jouvert because it is so elemental. Standing in the dark chill of the early morning, before the sun comes up to warm the day. Having a cold Carib beer for breakfast even though the more up-market jouvert bands now serve breakfast complete with tea and coffee. Waiting and then there is the mud, glorious mud, slightly warm, anonymous hands slathering every inch of your body. It is like crawling back into the goo from which we emerged, it is not pretty, it is not even particularly pleasant at first, but as the day warms up and the sun rises, with the after burn of the beer coursing through your veins and music in your head you want to dance, dance, dance. It is not the frenetic wining that will come later in the day when you don the pretty costume. It is a slower; more laid back, sinuous winding of your body, usually around the person you’re with, jouvert is never something you do alone. You either go with very good friends or with your lover.
When we produced mas, jouvert was the only time I felt truly free for Carnival, the rest of the time was work. At first, threading my way through the throngs to provide the home viewer with that eagle eye view of Carnival, then later writing for the web while frantically getting stuff on the air and then the years when I ran a mas camp too. If you’re a maker of mas, on the road you belong to everyone and it is very rare that the day is all yours. And so it was for a long time, jouvert was the time to ‘free up’.
So you’d think that having not missed jouvert in years, it is a surprise to note that this is the third year that I’ve not been a participant. When you love someone you make compromises, you learn to live with their foibles, you make allowances. When you love someone who makes you feel bad about yourself, it colours the way you view things, even the things you once enjoyed. One day I know that I’ll return to jouvert but right now, I can’t. This is another thing I let him take, but I’ll find my way back when the time is right. Until then, for jouvert I snuggle deeper in the covers with the hound. We are complicit, he will snuggle making me safe, I will not miss so much the mud.