By Irina Echarry

We were struck with wonder by some small worms that hung from the trees.
We were struck with wonder by some small worms that hung from the trees.

Walking to my best friend’s house, together with a person who just might become a new friend, we were struck with wonder by some small worms that hung from the trees.  It was like a rapid cut from some surrealistic film: surrounded by night, the colors and the forms of those small animals caught our attention.

I’ve always felt that friendship is a strong sentiment, that once you develop true ties with someone, it’s impossible to undo them.  It’s if it had to do with something eternal, impervious to the passage of time, to the ups and downs of life and feelings.  But recently I’ve been thinking that time and emotions can betray us.

The truth is that I’m very romantic, so I get caught up in the idea of absolute friendship as if it were a life raft.  When I feel that something links me to a certain person, I try to get close to them in order to share the good energy.  I’d be capable of anything for the happiness of a friend, although that affects me in one way or another.

This new friend could be one of those who stay in our lives even though in these times we Cubans could categorize friendship as a white cloud that disintegrates in the wind.  Friends are made and lost with great ease.

The emigration of some of them in search of other horizons raises certain questions to which no one offers any answers.  So my love isn’t good enough to keep you close?  I’m aware that the departures are almost always due to economic and political difficulties or even to problems in love.

Nonetheless, doubts assail me on many occasions, especially when I receive their letters telling me what they have done.  Their lives are limited to missing those they left behind, longing for the sea where we spent such good moments together, thinking about reuniting someday.

The other problem is the distancing of those who have remained on the island but who become so removed in their daily lives that we can barely manage to keep in contact with them.

It’s sad to have your loved ones so far away.

Luckily, I have been getting to know other people, lovely people who could love me and let themselves be loved by me.  Simple people who share a sunset, a piece of cake or their best emotions; although it’s probable that one day it will be my turn to write about the moment when they left the country or stopped seeking my company.

We encounter a more serious dilemma when we are willing to have friends no matter what happens, despite the lack of places to meet, of intimate spaces to debate topics of interest to us without offending one of our family members.

I don’t know how this phenomenon plays out in other places, if the moments of sharing joys or sorrows among friends are lasting or not.  I imagine that each country has its own peculiarities.  In this twenty-first century it’s normal that people don’t feel close to each other.

Although many of us try, the future of friendship in Cuba is uncertain.  It’s a given that the present isn’t any more secure.  I live with the fear of ending up alone, steeped in the sadness of memory and of nostalgia.

Those little worms that hang on the trees (and this restive fellow who has entered my life) make me think about how fragile we are.

The playful air could carry them far away, separating them.  Someone who doesn’t see them could tear them out of their comfortable perches and scatter them far from each other.  The rain, perhaps, will insist in leaving some on other flowers.  The children could determine the exact moment in which one of those worms must die, using it to scare someone or shutting it into a bottle.

Anything could happen at any moment.  Have I been living in error?  Is friendship a strong tie, or do we simply invent certain qualities for it in order to avoid recognizing our fragility?