HAVANA TIMES — Almost every evening, as 10:00 p.m. approaches, I try to go to sleep. I try to close my eyes and stop thinking. I try to forget that in the morning I’ll go back to my beat-up desk and an office that always reminds me of a suffocating 12-by-12-foot cell.
That dungeon is even shrinking, as on at least two occasions that fact becomes certain and inevitable: the first is when I think about my salary and later is whenever I discover that the air conditioning unit mounted in the wall is a monument to impossibility (it works but it isn’t used so that they can save electricity.)
At 9:21 p.m. last Thursday, my landlady called me and in an instant my dreams vanished and August suddenly portended to be one hellish month.
Within a week I would have to be out of there and back on the street.
I couldn’t believe it.
I turned on the TV, concentrating on the volleyball match between Serbia and Germany, watching the ball being knocked across the screen, and then mechanically fixed a glass of relaxing tila tea.
I’ve been bounced around three municipalities of Havana, living in three different apartments.
When they tell me I should start looking for a new place, the same thing always happens: first, I get upset with my landlord and then I unavoidably dispense with the smiles and pleasantries that we previously exchanged.
Next, a state of anxiety begins, which won’t disappear until my few things are finally situated in a new place.
Along with the anxiety, comes the severing (always painful) of my attachments to the walls, colors and crannies of the apartment in which I had been living.
I begin to let disorder reign, but then I’ll go look for some cardboard boxes from the store and I’ll start packing – my books first.
I pray that there appears a place renting for 20 CUC, though something tells me I won’t get anything for less than twice that price.
I call up my friends, but I only get exasperated by their sad eyes; what I want is for them to help me find something.
I write a whining entry in Havana Times in which I’ll attempt — perhaps with little success — to draw attention to the fact that I’m one of among thousands who suffer from a chronic lack of shelter.
This August isn’t a good month to look for a place: the neoclassical buildings are collapsing or being torn down to prevent more people from dying, while the recent college grads who have decided to stay in Havana are competing against me…
To make things worse, I’m still not included on any list for housing assistance…