Dangerous Liaisons

Havana photo by Juan Suárez

By Eduardo N. Cordovi

HAVANA TIMES – Dangerous Liaisons is the name of a US movie released in 1988, starring Glenn Close, Michelle Pfeiffer, Uma Thurman, John Malkovich and Keanu Reeves. It is based on the French novel of the same name, an erotic story from the 18th century written in the epistolary style, by Pierre Choderlos de Laclos. But I’m not going to write a film or literary review here.

I’m going to write about other dangerous liaisons or what could be. We add the danger to them depending on how much attention we pay to them. If you hold onto a heavy rock, you’re going to drown. Everything depends on whether you’re in or out of deep water.

Let me tell you about neighborhood friends… They’re the close ones…

… the intimate ones, the ones from our generation. The ones we went to school with since primary school. Whose parents were also friends with our own. But, there are other friends who came later. The ones who moved to the neighborhood when we finished primary school. Maybe, the new ones when we started high school, or even a bit later.

Anyway, if you move far away and lose touch; your new neighbors will replace them.

They are also the ones we’ve met recently. The ones we get on with as adults. We end up chatting on the corner, in someone’s doorway. The ones we meet up with to chat for a couple of hours, almost every day in the park. The ones we discuss politics with, baseball, about other people and, like them, gossip about other neighbors.

Despite people disappearing. Because some have passed away. And those who are missing. Because lots have left the country. You still have friends, the people you talk to about the things you’d talk about with the others if they hadn’t left. In Cuba today, you realize that your soulmates are always the ones that live near you. An old saying goes: Your closest neighbor is your brother/sister.

What seems like friendly everyday life, acts as a social lubricant, like a shock absorber so we can continue to live. This helps us to discern the tragedy. A terribly scary thing.

I’ve realized that we talk about the same thing every day, maybe not in the same order, but almost always with the same words and phrases. Always the same subjects and the same situations. Always the same emotions, fears, uncertainties, sadness, longings and disappointments. The same convictions and the same rage. And so, everyday is a repetition of the day before. Thus, without even realizing: we become zombies! with a fixed repertoire. We end up mechanical, like robots, without any relationship to tropical abundance. People who are still asleep when they get out of bed in the morning, bodies that continue the dreams of yesterday or the day before yesterday, or the day before that, or any other day before that.

It takes a lot of effort to see this emotionally paralyzing trap. We feel a certain addictive high which we confuse with affection for our friends, but it’s really just a vicious feeling of wasting time by clinging to the past, feeling sorry for yourself and everyone else, blaming others for not having incentive, listing the series of defects you think there are with the world, with our existence, in others, the climate, in the neighborhood, with store prices, how bad public transport is, blackouts, the Government, and even governments in other countries. You discover that meeting up with your friends, wherever you’re meeting up, takes on a diabolic shape, consuming our lives or some symptom of a latent disease, that destroys our souls.

I read more than I did before. Maybe I’ve been influenced by conspiracy theories. Or maybe I’m just wrong. However, I take action. If I find myself meeting in a place with my brothers, I go and say hello. But to stop it from looking like something’s off, I say goodbye with the excuse I have something urgent to do. I’m trying to reinvent my day with new objectives. Closer to reality and the present. It isn’t good to live in the past or worry about the future. I prepare a canvas to paint, I sharpen my needles or look for a good piece of wood I can carve into. Or better yet, I reread a novel I’ve been writing for three years that I haven’t finished. Not because I’m creatively blocked, but because I’ve been spending a lot of time on the street corner. I’ve stopped listening to news I already know about. That I don’t care about. That I can’t do anything about. How bad the bread is. How expensive carrots are…

That’s it for today. I don’t want to become a dangerous liaison.

Read more from the diary of Eduardo N. Cordovi here.