HAVANA TIMES — Today is my birthday, the day when most of us are filled with joy and are ready to celebrate yet another coming year. But I have to confess that what I’m feeling is something between happiness and sadness. The feeling of nostalgia is what has overcome me.
It’s not midlife crisis, the crisis of the 40s, with the fear of old age creeping up ever closer. It’s the inevitable evaluating of life that we do (sometimes even unconsciously). What have we accomplished? What remains to be done?
I forget the pat phrases about how “life will be complete if we have planted a tree, had a child or written a book.” I’m being more pragmatic, and I imagine that the same thing is going to happen with many of my contemporaries.
I was born in 1970, the year of the ten-million-ton sugarcane harvest, with that unfulfilled aim having been a sort of the fate for those of us born just 11 years after the triumph of the revolution, in turmoil but with still many supporters.
So I was a revolutionary Pioneer, a young revolutionary, I read the works of Marx and Engels, I studied Russian, I saw the troops leave for Angola, I recall the images of the Peruvian Embassy, the Mariel boatlift and the Ochoa trial.
From here I found out about the fall of the Berlin Wall and that in the Soviet Union, things called glasnost and perestroika happened. I witnessed the fervent and long speeches of our Comandante and was also later a witness to his disjointed babbling and his sad appearances as a senile old man.
I confess to my friends that I don’t know if I’m getting old, and this makes me more apprehensive. But with the years I’ve lived and the birthdays I’ve celebrated, I’ve seen my country deteriorate like an old book.
I even cast to one side all my frustrations about being a professional with a truncated career, of being able to release myself only by writing for an unofficial site, never being able to see snow, and… But I’ll get over the longing and I’ll toast to life with my partner, my two neighbors, my sick father and whatever odd friend happens to come by the house.
My mother, who died at 54, after participating in the literacy campaign in the mountains, after being young rebel, a member of the Committee for the Defense and the Revolution and the Federation of Cuban Women, won’t be there after having ended up a prisoner of disappointment in her later years.
My brother, who left on a raft and my only niece who emigrated with her mother, won’t be around either. Just like a lot of friends who live in different parts of the planet.
Nevertheless I will raise my glass and blow out the candles, giving thanks to life like Violeta Parra, and I’ll ask with strength for providence to permit me future birthdays not so far away from my loved ones. And my Cuba will be less sad.