No Plan B

Daisy Valera

Foto: Caridad

HAVANA TIMES — Should I spend my last 50 cents? Will I or won’t I end up being cheated by the phone company?

But after the fifth ring I had no doubt, so I accepted the charge [in Cuba you have to pay to receive calls] and got the phrase: “I have to see Daisy …today.”

The voice on the other cellphone was almost a sigh. Something (someone) was screwed up. I instantly recognized the mixture of bitterness and fatigue.

Speaking to me was my friend Luna, who says her grandparents were Spaniards from… La Mancha (though her olive skin and her full thick lips make me doubt it).

“Now I’ll be in this country for two more years. My papers are stuck in a pile on some damn desk in California, with me being number one million on one of the endless lists of the US Interests Section,” she complained.

But after the anger, she smiled and said, “I can’t take it.”

She never spoke to me about “El Yuma” (the United States) let alone the “enemy to the north”; and not because she thought I’d try to discourage her from going. It’s just that Luna doesn’t even trust her mother.

She had decided to live here for the time she had left. Living here, not pretending that she’s on this island dreaming of Dominos’ Pizza while swallowing one of our 2-cent little pizzas.

She seemed to be as in love with the city as ever, with still enough provincialism to find herself standing in front of a high-rise building captivated.

She put her passport in a drawer and started making friends …and enemies (a despotic boss, the gossip on the first floor of the building).

She was finally talking to me about how sad it would be to emigrate, to lose her friends, her family.

She had the feeling that she would never get away from Cuba.

I would hate working at McDonald’s and not writing the first line of a boring poem.

She fears ending up wandering around in the blogosphere to compensate for her absence. One comment here, another one over there.

“This is bullshit Daisy, the army, transportation, the State Security, hunger, plague, rubble… everything.”

After 40 minutes she changed the subject:

She slept with a friend (or didn’t she). She read Zoe Valdes for the first time. She drank a milk shake with her conscience bearing down on her (thinking of the poor children in Africa, those in Centro Havana).

I know she’s scared.

She doesn’t have a plan B, and she doesn’t know how much more she can stand it here in Havana.

Her gaze became fixed on an airplane flying over the Barrio Electrico neighborhood. She had never felt like such an asshole.

Daisy Valera

Daisy Valera:Soil scientist and blogger. I write from Mexico City, where Havana sometimes becomes so small that it disappears. However in others, the Cuban capital is a city so past and present that it steals your breath.