Maria Matienzo Puerto

Photo: Caridad

It’s not that I particularly like stories of conflict or people’s love lives in crisis; it’s just that without me searching for them, they find me. This is why I write about them so often, especially if economic issues are the defining elements. To me, the story about how “love conquers all” started to sound like a big fat lie a long time ago. I’ll leave it like that. That’s all I can say.

It’s just when poverty comes slinking through the door (I think I’ve said this on other occasions), love jumps out the window, terrified by the lack of money, the hunger and everything else that brings misery.

So imagine then if the person who loves is not the most sublime (envious people also fall in love) and the miseries of the soul begin to surface, which I’m convinced are the worst.

I have two female friends who are in a situation like that. Several years ago they found a “solution”: after sleeping at a bus stop for three days, one of them (I’ll call her “M”) married a German.

Now the two girlfriends are on top of the world, as long as there doesn’t appear a message on the cellphone announcing the arrival of the German back here in Havana. That’s when they begin fighting, getting upset, reconciling and swearing their eternal love.

Yet and still the guy is kept in play. “M” doesn’t want to leave him because she remembers the time when she and her girlfriend didn’t have anything to eat and had nothing to wear. So “L” (what I’ll call her girlfriend) is constantly saying she’s through.

The German sends money throughout the year and as an older man he’s not interested in having children.

“M”, unlike other Cuban women, is not focused on emigration. She only wants to live in this city with her girlfriend, who she’s been with for the last four years, in the house that her husband bought for her.

From almost being an indigent, through the relationship with the foreigner “M” became the heir of a few properties that she has never seen and the possessor of a few thousand dollars.

Right now “L” is spending some time at my house. The German’s back in town. Nobody else can put up with her. She doesn’t cry, but that would be preferable. Her stomach hurts constantly and she spends the whole day waiting by the phone for it ring, for a message, for a call from her girlfriend.

Every time she has a chance, “M” will send her something—even food—because somehow she needs to share with the person she loves this world of “wealth” that she’s experiencing with her German.

It’s true that “M” has the option of eliminating the intruder from their lives. They could work more (because I forgot to say that both of them have jobs: “M” is a lawyer and “L” is a nurse) and live like everyone else. But look how other people live?

I don’t know what they’d say about my opinion. I know all the names that this could go by, but you can’t eat or live off morality. Them with their lives and me with my long journey, that’s the hand I’ve dealt myself. In the end, they’re both good friends of mine, and friends don’t judge each other.


Maria Matienzo

Maria Matienzo Puerto: I dreamed once that I was a butterfly who had come from Africa and discovered that I had been alive for thirty years. From that time on, I constructed my world while I was sleeping: I was born in a magic city like Havana; I dedicated myself to journalism; I wrote and edited books for children; I met to discuss art with wonderful people; I fell in love with a woman. Of course, there are certain points of coincidence with the reality of my waking life and it’s that I prefer the silence of reading and the pleasure of a good movie.

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