When I completed my education I had a problem of too many qualifications on paper and zero work experience. Apart from the few months of tutelage at a law firm, which I had done to complete law school, I had only worked as a sales girl in my mother's shop. I joined the ranks of the unemployed in Kampala, wrote hundred's of applications and prayed for a miracle. Even though my student life was over I tried to hang onto those carefree days, continued to revel in the night life of the city and drank more alcohol than I should have. It seemed to me that I did everything backwards back then because when all my friends were partying at Makerere, I had become a young mother and had to stay home caring for a baby. When I went to London, Lionel stayed back with his father and only came for short visits. Alone in London with a new set of friends and hardly any responsibility, it was time to live it up and make up for the missed years.
When I returned to Uganda it was difficult letting go of the carefree London life and I found my escape in Kampala's nightlife at Nectarine, Little Flowers, Ange Noir and Club Clouds. My father who thought I was unraveling stepped in and sent me away on a vacation that I had wanted for a while. I went to visit my BFF Lesley Ann,on the beautiful Caribbean Island of Barbados. The BA flight started its descent after the cross-Atlantic flight from London and when we cleared the clouds I saw for the first time the stunning beauty of the Caribbean. The aquamarine water, the miles of beaches with tall coconut and palm trees waving their welcome. I wished I was coming to stay even before we had landed. I toured the beautiful island's luxurious Sandy Lane hotel, the sugarcane plantations, Cave Hill University, Harrison's cave and the obligatory boat party. The nightlife was everything that Lesley had promised. We danced to Calypso rhythms and drank rum punch till the wee hours of the morning. Les was leaving for law school in Trinidad and Tobago and I went with her to Port of Spain where we visited even more beautiful beaches and danced some more.
Among my many memories of that vacation which I took to try and get in touch with my inner self and root myself in my new reality, I remember with amazing clarity a wall hanging at Les' grandma's house. She lived in a traditional Chattel house, charming in its simplicity. She was as old as old can be and sat there quietly while Lesley and I did the talking. A hanging on her wall read: 'If I had to live my life over again, I would make the same mistakes, only I would start sooner.' The words captivated me and I kept looking at it and re-reading it. This tiny old woman was telling her visitors something profound without uttering it. She had no apologies for how she had lived her life. In those same words I knew there was deep honesty, a sense of pride and little regret.
At 50 I know that the little old woman gave me a gift that I had denied myself: I started to forgive myself and put my mistakes in perspective. I allowed myself to take risks early, knowing that I could live a full life, as I chose, with little regret.
— feeling positive.