An End to Melancholy

Francisco Castro

Just waking up.
Just waking up.

HAVANA TIMES — I get out of bed and look in the mirror. The messy hair and horrible-looking face make me look away and I stumble onto the phone. I look at the time. It’s 11:30 am. I head over to the kitchen like a zombie. I prepare some coffee, which I will take without sugar and a bit of powdered milk.

I head over to the computer, cup in hand. I turn it on and look at the folder, on the desktop, titled “Havana Times Drafts,” right next to another folder named “Ideas for script.” The cursor floats over it and clicks on “Videoteca.” Inside it, a sub-folder named “Pending.” Double click on that one. It’s empty.

Too much free time, it seems. I’ve already watched the shows and movies in the last package. I again think I have too much free time. I’ve got no one who takes up any time in my life, nor anything beyond my nightly routine of directing a news program to occupy myself with in the morning. I am alone. Suddenly, the melancholy, the one that stalks me more regularly of late, takes a hold of me. I begin to worry about the fact no one even looks at me out on the street, or that I haven’t even written my name in months.

Years ago, when I didn’t worry about trifles like that, I wasn’t a dude-magnet either. Now, over thirty, a bit on the hefty side, a year after officially ending my relationship with my boyfriend, I continue to think that, tomorrow, I’m going to wake up, smile at the sun and exercise. But not today. Tomorrow, it’s always tomorrow.

That’s how it’s been and, apparently, will always be, to the end of time, or to the end of my days on Earth, to be more precise, for I always find a reason (or no reason at all) to keep me from going to a gym. I don’t know why I say “gym,” that’s far too pretentious a word. I don’t lift a finger to get these muscles of mine going, muscles which begin to atrophy from lack of use.

“Bah,” let us say all at once. “Let your muscles atrophy. The only muscle that needs to work well and be more and more in shape in our time on Earth is your brain.”

Yes. Don’t look at me like that. That’s the honest truth. You have to exercise your brain every day. And you have to create something every day, to ensure the brain is getting its exercise. Write, paint, plan. As part of an extremely humdrum job like directing a news broadcast, you should introduce a new camera movement, make the host say a different kind of farewell, or put together a report that summarizes, in ten words, what could be conveyed over a minute and a half.

Create, create, create…to know you’re still using your mind. One should study and know that what you create can have a broad audience, make sure your work reaches the greatest number of people possible, so that you will have a spot in the Olympus where your gods reign, next to Lezama Lima, Gutierrez Alea, Lam. That’s also a way to attract men. That’s a way of attracting the kind of men that will matter to you. Your brain should be the dude-magnet, not your physical appeal, or the muscles that peek out from under your shirt.

A bit pretentious, this kid, no? The thing is, I’m no longer a kid. I’m already over thirty, a bit on the hefty side and it’s already been a year since I officially ended my relationship with my boyfriend. It’s been over six years since I graduated from the Arts University. And, a lot of calculations later, the great work, the one that would earn me a place among the gods of Olympus, is still a dream, because I continue to think that, tomorrow, I’m going to wake up, smile at the sun, write the first word of the script that will revolutionize the history of cinema and, with it, my life. But not today, tomorrow…

A question mark, three dots, a dramatic silence, a look of fury, smoke coming out of my years, a Viking-like scream, panting after so many emotions, a happy face and a light bulb going on. No, not today. Today isn’t the same as yesterday. Today is the first day of the rest of my life. I have much conviction. It’s time to put an end to this melancholy.

Today, I get up and, after having my coffee, I start doing pushups and sit-ups. I will soon be seeing your faces, gods of my Olympus.

3 thoughts on “An End to Melancholy

  • Do you have a job? 11:30 wake up ? Where do I sign up?

  • Indeed. Working out regularly is a panacea. It’s the fountain of youth.

  • Working out is equally as good for the brain as writing, I can attest to that.

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