The Damn Housing Mess

Maria Matienzo Puerto

Foto: Caridad

My friend “B” has problems with her mother. Basically she has problems living with her. Her mother — a professional who now goes through life with a certain dose of frustration for not having achieved everything that she set out to — makes life impossible for B.

B can’t rent another place because her salary can’t handle it, plus she has her five-year-old to support.

In an ideal world she’d buy an apartment, now that the new law permits it. But she, like me, knows full well that her salary will never allow her to save 3,000 CUCs (around $3,400 USD), the minimum it would take to live in harmony in a place where she could raise her child in peace, without the stress caused by her mother and her personal frustrations.

If someone who comes over to their home is a person with an air of importance, or — more than an “air” — is an important person, the mother will treat them well. But if this person is like me, “without even a place to drop dead,” and it shows, B’s mother will try to demonstrate her authority as the owner of the house by yelling, being rude and imposing her will.

In the first case (with supposedly “important” people), my friend B will be talked about as a liar. In the second (with people like me), the mother may tolerate them, but she’ll at least suggest putting a few drops of cyanide in their morning coffee.

I really don’t know what advice to give my friend. She’s always complaining, but hell, she’s over 30, she’s been married three times, has a child, has her own job and is supporting herself economically.

As for the new laws, they might seem like an incentive, but really they aren’t, because my friend, like me, questions how much of a real benefit they are if they’re outside the reach of what we can actually afford. What value are they if they’re out of whack with the reality of the street? They’re an abstract consolation, not a concrete solution.

It’s like living in a capsule. We can see what happens, but the bounds established by the walls don’t allow us to participate. The joy doesn’t go beyond the initial enthusiasm, which is what you feel just before realizing we’re never going to get anywhere.

That’s how I see things with my friend B, who like many women of her generation have conflicts with their mothers, with their husbands, but don’t know how to get out because they can’t see any alternatives.

My friend B once believed in the eternal, in art, in life, but she became so disappointed that now she doesn’t write, she doesn’t believe in love or the possibility of getting out of the hole that has created this damn frustrating mess for everybody.