Why Did I Stay in Cuba, Why Didn't I Leave?
April 10, 2017
By Lilibeth Alfonso (La Esquina de Lilith)
HAVANA TIMES — Staying in Cuba is reason to be asked one fine day why
you didn't leave, and it's asking yourself what would have happened if
you had left. This "what if" is the father of all absurdity and
uncertainty for what never happened, not because you lacked
opportunities, not because you didn't want to prove something to
somebody, just because that's the way you wanted it to be.
Staying is a choice, and choices have consequences. It implies a life
without any obvious uprooting but its roots have been fleeing
nonetheless. You might have the most important but you're missing the
peripherical, because while you decided to stay, almost all of your
family, your best friend, your life-long neighbor, different lovers, the
boy who you always swore to yourself that you'd kiss one day… all of
It's having to bite your tongue when you feel like complaining to your
colleagues abroad about your salary, about being over 30 years old and
the closest you've ever been to being in a foreign country is when you
visit those places in Guantanamo province which somebody has called
Jamaica, Honduras, El Salvador, New York…, because you know you'll get a
"I told you so" and you don't want to argue.
Staying is missing what you love about Cuba without going anywhere, and
having your very heart split into two by people who leave, because a
country isn't only its land and architecture, a country is the scents
you love, the trips you made, the people you met along the way, and a
lot of this no longer exists in this day and age.
Staying is living between two worlds: the reality you love and hate,
weighing up your words and actions, carefully choosing your emotions,
the ones you share on Facebook, what you like and what makes you sad,
what makes you angry…, because they are watching you, they are judging
you, and you know it.
Staying in Cuba is corroborating the fact that the people who leave will
never be the same, or almost never the same; it's getting used to
flexible morals and radical changes, and convincing yourself that the
coke that makes one forget exists.
Staying in Cuba is watching, like a spectator, the great theater of
unfulfilled dreams, watching the journalist who left because she used to
say that she didn't fit into the politics of official media and its
promise of music always being produced on a conveyor belt, and in spite
of this, not being able to define, for certain, the feeling of the moment.
Staying in Cuba is experiencing the violent dichotomy of working in the
field you studied, but having to do a juggling act to get to the end of
the month, and not judging somebody who chose to do anything else, but
they have the house you don't, the car you don't and the financial
security that you can't even imagine.
Staying in Cuba is dreaming of a better country in spite of all of the
bad omens, in spite of the fact that the economy shows signs but almost
never advances, and therefore you have to dream alone a lot of the time,
It's watching how people who swore you would leave have their
predictions proved wrong, and you see them leave one day, from the other
side of security control at airports.
Staying in Cuba is a choice, and like every choice you have to live with
it. It isn't easier than leaving. Sometimes staying can also be a pile
Source: Why Did I Stay in Cuba, Why Didn't I Leave? - Havana Times.org -