My Return to CubaJanuary 29, 2014 | Print |
Yenisel Rodríguez Pérez
HAVANA TIMES — Four months after returning to Cuba, the sense of asphyxiation the city of Miami had produced in me has finally disappeared.
For me, Miami was a world caught between work as a way of life and the affection of my relatives, a city saturated with asphalt and anonymity, where the nostalgia felt by Cuban immigrants lacks the gleaming splendor described by the songs of Willy Chirino.
Across the ocean, the Cuba where people don’t know what to say, or think everything’s been said already, or think it useless to say anything at all, persists, that other nothingness one experiences in suffering, surviving.
Little by little, I begin to make sense of my brief and intense experiences in the idealized destination of Cuban émigrés.
I arrived in the United States with a deeply conventional attitude, as the former prisoner of Castroism, the underdeveloped immigrant, the unsatisfied consumer. That said, I had none of the inebriety that informs so much superficial fascination with the First World, which raises all criticism towards our new reality to the ground.
Months after returning to the island, I have finally freed myself of many of those conventional attitudes. Perhaps I’ve acquired others (the mild sense of pride felt by those who return to their native soil and similar fervent postures). But I have also made a fortune, a fortune I carry in the way I now look at things.
My neighborhood has become my equator, my gravitational center, my utopia.
The sense of impotence, of being unable to take part in the First World “carnival” and the presage of much-extolled liberties across the sea have become reconciled with the menu back home.
Now, I intend to build bridges and tear down walls – bridges that do more than overcome the haggard differences between Cuba and the United States.
This, however, does not lead me to defend an opportunistic return to one’s home or any kind of clinging to the past through dreams of a golden future.
My return to Cuba has a lot to do with circumstance, with family-related problems, with the lack of support I ran into. It also had to do with my inability to make profits in the spaces cleared away by politics. This may help explain why I insist on referring to something that could be understood as transit between two worlds as a “return.”
My return also has to a lot to do with reaffirmation and self-knowledge. To put it in clear and autobiographical terms, I want to use my experience as a “returner” to insist on the possibility of living the present and contributing to the future of the nation.
What more can I say about a story that seems to repeat itself?