The Agreement

Painting by Fabiana del Valle

By Fabiana del Valle

HAVANA TIMES – I don’t believe in fate. An inevitable and inescapable supernatural power to guide my life until an end I haven’t chosen goes against the free will or freedom I staunchly defend. But this story is about a couple, they believe in destiny and in other things.

Amanda had only known romantic love, the kind that is born with the expectation that a person close to us is responsible for satisfying us and making us happy. This love idealizes the object of our expectations to a certain degree. We are incomplete if we aren’t loved.

But my friend completes herself, which is why it’s been hard for her to have long-term relationships.

She’s an independent woman, she never needed to be kept by any man. Raising a 10-year-old daughter in this country on her own is proof of the kind of woman I’m talking about. Life hasn’t been kind to her and she doesn’t regret anything. It doesn’t matter how many times she falls down, she always manages to get back up on her feet.

Everything changed after she turned her back on a suffocating relationship. She still wonders how she was ever able to have a romantic relationship with someone so selfish, who demanded a lot and gave very little. I’m talking about respect, not his financial contribution to the relationship, because the guy didn’t take any initiative in this part of the relationship.

Seeing her sad, her daughter urged her to look for a boyfriend. Do we have the theory of “New love drives out old love” instilled in us as children?

Once, they were looking at memes on Facebook, and the girl repeated the saying. Amanda pointed to a photo posted by one of her virtual friends, the kind that she barely knew from seeing them around, but she’d never spoken to him on the platform, or in real life.

“This one is going to be my boyfriend,” she said. “I don’t want anyone else,” they laughed.

This is where “fate” comes in. A week later, the guy writes to her on Facebook Messenger. He wanted to tell her that one of her posts was very interesting. It was an excuse, of course! This kicked off a string of messages, video calls that got them more and more excited, until they had to meet in real life.

No one is like Dantes, he’s not like any other man I’ve ever known. He walked down a different path to us in the past, and his adventures helped teach him to see things from a different angle. He firmly believes that people have to feel whole and complete on their own. You know?” she told me.

It was also hard for him to find someone who saw things the way he did. He found a companion in Amanda, who he could share sexual satisfaction and affection on the same level.

He offered her a completely equal relationship in terms of gender roles and power dynamics, when it comes to giving and receiving love, not the idyllic forever love that she’d stopped believing in a long time ago.

They made an agreement in true “Fifty Shades of Grey” style. There, they wrote down the things that were and weren’t acceptable in the relationship. Nevertheless, they’ve been scratching some points out and added others.

They have to keep all of this a secret from their families and the rest of society. Many subjects are still taboo today despite social media, the excessive influx of information and a new Family Code in Cuba. Only the people closest to them know the lifestyle they’ve adopted, and we respect them for that.

They’ve managed to find a way to get by on the island, but they also dream of escaping one day, like so many others. They are surviving despite living in hardship, the everyday agony of opening their eyes and discovering they are still here.

Without the need for lies, betrayal or selfishness, equally sharing duties and pleasure. I know perfection doesn’t exist, of course. They’ve also had their doubts, they’ve also felt insecure.

They now share their lives with their feet firmly planted on the ground. It doesn’t matter how long the relationship lasts, they are making the absolute most of the relationship they have, which makes them stronger, certain and closer to enjoying the brief moments of happiness for people whose fate it was to be born in Cuba.

Read more from the diary of Fabiana del Valle here.