Afternoons with Lady X

Photo: Ernesto González

By Irina Pino

HAVANA TIMES – Sometimes, you have to choose who to spend your free time with, in the midst of an existential limbo, that tears away at us slowly, and takes our basic hopes away.

I have good times with Lady X. I’ve known her for years. She’s the mother of a young man who emigrated, who I had a brief affair with, even though I was married, and my son was only three months old.

In the beginning, the young man and I only spoke about trivial things. Then, we were intimate. However, we never fell in love. In the end, we stayed friends.

The last few times I saw him, he was swimming on the coast with a girl who was pregnant. Then, I discovered that they’d gotten married and had gone to the USA.

I’d see his mother on the street, and I’d greet her. But, one day, she talked to me about the articles I write, and I also offered to give her two of my published books. We agreed that she’d come to pick them up, and we began to see each other some afternoons.

She always invites me over for a cup of coffee and we talk. On the other hand, her apartment is very beautiful, where peace and quiet dominate, and everything is in its place. The green plants in their pots transmit energy and good vibes.

Chatting with Lady X eases the abyss and despair. Not only because she’s a very intellectual woman, who graduated in architecture and is a former university professor; but also because she isn’t afraid to express her opinions.

When we talk, there are no curtains or falseness, words flow naturally. She’s even told me about her time as a student, and the great lengths she had to go to to finish her degree. She was living in a town far from the city and had to make daily trips to go to her university.

This makes a person focus on their objectives and see further ahead. Of course, public transport ran regularly in the ‘70s, and buses would come one after the other.

Every now and again, the general situation, everyday hardship, the loss of values, the crisis works its way into our conversation, which slowly goes to pieces. About how the exodus has taken artists and people important to Cuban culture away from us. 

But then, we leave all that behind, and talk about things that lift our spirits. Events that have marked us.

I never get bored when I’m with her, she’s had different life experiences. She narrates them beautifully. I love the story of her time in New York, when she was in Manhattan and Brooklyn.

Those walks down Fifth Avenue, Times Square. Visits to different museums such as the MOMA, Guggenheim and the MET, where she was blown away by art by painters Claude Monet, Jackson Pollock, Van Gogh, and so many others.

By the way, she tells me it isn’t hard to get around NY. Nobody gets lost because there are signposts everywhere.

I must admit that I dream of going to this city one day. For now, I can only experience it when I watch a Woody Allen movie; or when I watch Sex and the City again.

I hope our friendship continues. I feel like the generational barrier doesn’t stand in the way. We have so much in common; plus, we both love literature.

Read more from the diary of Irina Pino here on Havana Times.