The Girl, her Girlfriend and the Wish to Leave Cuba

Luis Miguel del Bahia

Havana street. Photo: Ernesto Gonzalez
Havana street. Photo: Ernesto Gonzalez

HAVANA TIMES — Some years ago, “M” started going out with a girl and all eyes in the neighborhood turned towards her.  “X”., her partner, has been living in a very small house with four relatives, where she is forced to sleep in the living room, since she was five.

M and X tell me they have been together for three years and love each other very much. M has a house with several bedrooms and lives only with her mother. The three lived together for a while until the mother-in-law remembered her social function and everything went downhill from there. Some measure of homophobia must have had a say in that.

The couple now live far from each other, at opposite ends of the city. In the time they’ve been together, they’ve had to deal with many problems, like having to go their separate ways late at night after a party, having to meet furtively at a park or underneath a stairwell, even having to pay 5 Cuban Convertible Pesos (CUC) to rent out a room and be able to have sex away from prying eyes.

X, who only got as far as the ninth grade, has no hope of finding a well-paid job. She tells me her DREAM, her dream in capital letters, is to leave the country. I tell her of my own experience as an immigrant and why I chose to return to Cuba, that I don’t like living “abroad.” We both agree Havana is a marvelous city, but she has her heart set on her dream.

I immediately ask them if they think they would miss each other and whether a more comfortable life would be worth sacrificing love. The two agree that it would be better to simply be friends than to live as they do. They even ask themselves how they’ve managed to last this long.

One catches a bus, the other stays behind. They say goodbye to each other. It is a cold night and their bodies will be separated by many kilometers.

With its new policies, the Cuban State hopes, to a certain extent, to have some of its émigrés return to the country. In the meantime, making it difficult for young people to find decorous employment, it practically forces others to leave.