Depression, the Street Sweeper and Sex

Mavis Dora Alvarez
Mavis Dora Alvarez

The second Monday in December wasn’t a good day for me.

Due to those mysteries of the mind that the neuroscientists still haven’t managed to decipher, I couldn’t sleep well on Sunday. I dreamed and dreamed, so much that later I couldn’t remember anything about the dreams. And I woke up tired, absolutely muddled, something that doesn’t often happen to me.

The only useful thing I did all day was to read a book that had been waiting several weeks for my attention on the night table beside my bed. Since it was a cerebral book, one of those that obligate you to concentrate, when I finished reading it that night, I had a war going on in my head between the philosophical postulates of social thought and the reality that “really” surrounds us.

It’s not that it was difficult to read; it was well written, but the problem was that the more I read the less I knew about where the author was leading. And that insolvable enigma led me directly into a long sleep, very long and deep, that I had been in such great need of.

Since the author is an appreciated and respected colleague, I will be thanking him for that when I run into him around town.

Early on Tuesday, as is my custom upon awakening, I listen to all the news programs within the reach of my small but efficient radio, capable of picking up any wavelength. On one of the Cuban stations, a specialist – I believe he was a psychologist – was talking about the damage that depression causes to our overall health. I entered into a state of alert; it seemed as if the man was talking directly to me, as if I was sitting in his office and we were face to face. He enumerated all the negative things, diseases, serious consequences that such a depressive state could provoke. What a scare!

Avenue of the Presidents (photo taken from
Avenue of the Presidents (photo taken from

At ten in the morning I was in the beauty parlor, asking my beautician to give me a modern haircut, fun and youthful, but without exaggeration, since I’m almost seventy. Back home again, I fixed myself up as if I was going to a party, but again without exaggeration, and I set off for a gathering with other writers. The site of the association is near my house so I can walk there.

And what do you know? I had hit the right note. It seems that I even looked sexy, because several men looked at me in a way that they hadn’t looked at me for a long time, which is more or less the normal way that Cuban men look at Cuban or foreign women when their sexual desire is awakened, what they call in biological terms, the sex urge.

So there I was, crossing the Avenue of the Presidents, and there was an elderly man, a little weathered by the years, but with the face of a happy person. He was sweeping the park. He looked at me, he smiled at me in greeting and when I went by him he said as if he were talking to himself, but knowing that I could hear: “Mamma mia, in this country even the old women are beautiful.”

Goodbye depression.

I believe that the psychologist who comes on the radio early in the morning is very good. I’m going to keep listening to him.

I need to go more often to the beauty parlor…and walk more often down the Avenue of the Presidents.

2 thoughts on “<em>Depression, the Street Sweeper and Sex</em>

  • Dear Mavis Dora Alverez,
    Thanks for this touching–and whimsical–vignette! Just as I suspect, something practical, and concrete, like a new haircut, does more to overcome depression than either a therapy session or a self-help book! In any event, depressions are a part of life, and to enjoy life we must spend a season in hell every now and again. Thanks for sharing with us!

  • perfect! And so funny! I am going to try printing this in the morning and post this on my office door, for all who enter to see and read. Mary.

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