HAVANA TIMES — My son is sad because his best friend Leo, who now lives in Miami, — despite their having shared years and games, secrets and dreams, despite their last embrace, teary eyes and attachments that made them exchange e-mail addresses and promises — he has not sent a message.
It was as if the plane he took was swallowed by the abyss of the “beyond,” and with it the excitement of exploring a world that until that moment seemed inaccessible, now approachable by sight.
I consoled my son as best I could. I told him that at first there’s a gleam that dulls the longing, and that he should understand that Leo was experiencing very turbulent times.
After all, he is a teenager who spent four years without seeing his father (who had left Cuba on a raft). Now Leo was now emigrating for family unification with his mother and sister. His reuniting, recognition and acceptance — and all in a huge country — would have to be overwhelming.
Still, after that initial hypnotic daze would come the feeling of absence and then Leo would write for sure, I told him.
But now it has been four months. Mutual friends and my son himself have gone from expectation to doubt, defiance and impotence. It seems that now they don’t expect anything.
Sometimes they might mention him, but only to recall some prank or incident, or to reaffirm that “He’s a wimp. Who would have guessed he couldn’t withstand the ‘amnesia of coca cola.’”
Leo left in November. Myself, being in Paris at that time, I couldn’t say goodbye. But in December I was here, and with affection and tears I was able to embrace my neighbor Jaime, my only trustworthy neighbor, friend and fellow “dissident” conversationalist.
It had been with him that I had been able to share boredom, anger and hopes. He was the one I would turn to for a little urgently needed salt, two fingers of oil or a sip of coffee. He would ask to read my articles or look at my husband’s paintings, and I could feel his pain almost more than my own.
He too left for Miami and the two of us also exchanged promises and e-mail addresses. Following that, I went through that same initial hypnotic daze, the time necessary to shake off the stupor, to prepare for any re-contact.
But he hasn’t written to me, not even in response to my email. My sister in Miami, who was expecting a package from him with photos and letters I sent, has also gone from expectation to doubt, to defiance and impotence. Me — who had made a thousand votes of confidence on his behalf, vouching for his seriousness and his loyalty — I now find those endorsements waning.
When I see his best friend and former neighbor — who’s also upset — he tells me that he hasn’t received a call from Jaime either. I don’t know what to say. I avoid looking at the empty balcony, the closed door or the place in the yard where he would sometimes play with his cat.
I also remember someone I met years ago who also left for the United States. When they came back on a visit to Cuba they did me the favor of picking up some letters I had written to members of my family there.
Once this person told me that many people to whom he enthusiastically delivers their letters seem to have no reaction. “Some don’t want to take them. They’ll tell me, ‘Throw them away, I don’t want to hear from those people.’”
That wasn’t my case, but I couldn’t help but to shudder when I thought about the hopes of those who are still here.
I know that no soda pop has the power to erase memory, to cool off emotional warmth and affection. But here, I understand that one can come to believe in a sinister phenomenon of amnesia triggered by the fact of crossing that blue line…
And like in antiquity it’s the same one that defines the limits of an earth that is flat – and that whoever crosses the horizon will certainly disappear.