Maria Matienzo Puerto
HAVANA TIMES — My mother used to always tell me: “Study Maria. One day things are going to return to normal, and you’ll get back more from knowledge than what you spent.”
I should note that my mother’s idea of “normalcy” was linked to the idea of professionals returning to the top of the social and economic pyramid.
In any case, even though I wasn’t a very obedient child, I kept studying. In the meantime, I didn’t stop having boyfriends or quit going out dancing.
Likewise, I continued wearing the clothes that I could come up with; they weren’t anything that made the fashion statement and they were often homemade – but I went out to have fun, not to model.
This is the topic of conversation between Liu and me every time we meet. We recall the old days, when we exchanged clothes so that it would always seem that we each had something new. We laugh at that. We don’t regret all the crazy things we did together because in the end we were studying what we wanted.
Then, among all the memories, popped up the name “Julitico.”
He wasn’t a child of either of us, nor was he an old boyfriend. He wasn’t a dance partner or anyone who we once shared a beach cabin with on some weekend excursion.
I simply asked Lui: What ever happened to Julitico?
As she hadn’t lost touch with him, Lui answered, “He’s the same as always; still hoping to get the right clothes, a good job and a house to seduce a woman.”
I couldn’t believe it, though nor did I doubt what Liu was telling me. She said that throughout the duration of school he always kept saying that once he graduated, he would start a new life, one that would include women.
Julitico is a man about six feet tall, thin, a mulatto, nice looking and someone who knows about everything that’s discussed in his presence. If you talk about sex (at least in theory), he knows it all. If the subject is astrology, he can share his opinion. If it’s about cooking, he’ll not only talk about it but he’ll cook up a spectacular meal.
He’s an open type who accepts his gay, lesbian and straight friends for what they are. Everyone seeks him out to confess their troubles and he’ll always give good advice.
His mother also told him that life would change him once he became a man who was economically self-sustaining. But she didn’t let him run the risk of not surviving the nineties, when you had to block out a lot to be free of the differences.
Julitico is now a professional (like the two of us) and he doesn’t have anything – no wife or children or house or a decent wage. His engineering degree has served him only to deepen his frustrations.
We don’t have anything either; or rather, we don’t have much – because at least Liu has a home (her husband’s) and children.
It’s true, Julitico is crazy if he thinks his problem will be solved when the economy improves, but everyone cements their personality in what they can or what they want – whether right or wrong.
My mother, Liu’s mother and Julitico’s mother were right. You had to study, but not because things in this country would ever return to normal, but because the only thing that saves us from madness are our professions.