My High School Days

Francisco Rafael Castro Cariacedo
Francisco Rafael Castro Cariacedo

During my pre-university student years at an institute of exact sciences, I formed my best friendships in the whole world. We all lived together for three years at a countryside school outside of Santiago de Cuba. During that time we experienced great changes, which revealed themselves as gigantic over the passage of time.

Without realizing it we learned from each other, modeling our characters using ourselves as paradigms. Today I can see in myself some of the phobias that I saw in them, and I surprise myself when seeing some of them reading my favorite authors.

It was a time of wonderful promiscuity, what could be called magical, given the circumstances of not having and not needing-only learning and enjoying.

We experienced the incomparable pain of losing a mother, the infinite happiness of the birth of a brother, the uncertainty of the first sexual relationship, fear before the immensity of discovering homosexuality, and the exquisite certainty of unconditional support.

All of the senses of our own flesh and blood -all as one- were strengthened before the immense feeling of the security that came over us when we were together, trusting that everything would by okay as long as we were united.

When something like that intoxicates your senses you never think of the future, of your individual future, because that addiction to each other is a craving that you never want to lose, especially because it does no harm.

For that reason, it hurts like running into a wall when each one follows their own path. And it hurts more because the paths are completely and totally different, which makes evident the incredible diversity that was maintained in the group. The most opposing interests converged on a center of harmony and learning; each individual strengthened and later pursued their own path.

Despite this, the idea remained floating around that we would always stay in contact, and it was like that for the first few months-even the first few years. Little by little though, we met other people, we were filling ourselves with new personal experiences of different types and calibers. Our interests were becoming defined in a more mature manner, and new lessons once again modeled our characters, this time for each one of us separately, to each in different ways.

Our contacts became more infrequent, scattered in a tangle of adult responsibilities and obligations. After having studied for five years in Havana and about to graduate, I believed that I had lost them.

So I went home to Santiago de Cuba during my last vacation without the hope of meeting up with any of them, very skeptical that if I did run into them they would react as I wished.

But it was not that way.

When I saw them I could feel they were carrying the same repressed desires. It took only a single memory to trigger the avalanche, the tears, and the overflowing pleasure of knowing they were there for me, and knowing I was there for them, just like before, like always, despite the physical distances.

It was knowing that it was worthwhile, it was all worth it-life and its constant challenges, its setbacks and happiness, its beauty and ugliness. It’s worthwhile because you matter to someone and are loved by them.

One thought on “My High School Days

  • One thing which has become quite apparent to me over time is that any present and future socialist society must recognize — consciously as opposed to unconsciously, as in previous societies — the fundamental material nature of the Universe in which the human animal exists and moves. And this means grasping and understanding the essentially cyclical nature of our existence as a species evolved on a planet with cycles of night and day, of the seasons, and of the generations, etc. in a manner which transcends in a positive way the old ways of the old society. The problem with breaking up an old, brutal — but still tradtional and seasoned, regular and familiar, grudgingly accepted — society, in order to create a new socialist one, is that the new society essentially has no ‘traditions’ of its own to draw on. It has to create these ‘traditions’ de novo; and often these new socialist ‘traditions’ (anniversaries, etc.) are somewhat stilted and ‘artificial’ in nature — because they have not been evolved, unconsciously and ’empirically’, over time, as were the hoary, old ones they replace.

    It seems to me that what has been lacking quite a lot in ‘actually-existing’ socialist societies has been ‘natural’, easy ‘traditions’ which do not bind people, serf-like, to society; but which instead emancipate the human individual thru their identification with collective praxis. IMO, identification with the Revolution will become an even more positive experience when the lingering doubt of the old society against it is removed — and replaced overwhelmingly with the positive praxis of this new society.

    In your case, I would say that there needs to be some way for a socialist society to more easily maintain group bonds — while allowing for all the necessary change in life circumstances which occurs over time. This need is why people since the Stone Age have been having anniversaries and birthdays and holidays, etc. in memory of all sorts of social and historical events — using these occasions to reinforce the old relations and bonds which hold together the collectivity (for both good and bad purposes). For you, I would say that simply getting together for a yearly anniversary, at this point, would go far towards overcoming the loss you all seem to feel over no longer living your wonderful student experience together. And IMO this sort of praxis should definitely be extended to the whole of socialist society in some (organized, systematic, conscious) way.

Comments are closed.