For You, On March 9 / Orlando Luis Pardo Lazo

Washington, DC reminds me of the William Soler Children’s Hospital which, in my early childhood, was on the outskirts of Havana, until I got older and the city annexed it.

The buildings here, in places, have the same curved mystery of clinical solitude. They are made of glass instead of windows. One can look inside each room at the patients of the great little American capital. From the street, I would say that in every home here there is an oxygen tank over-illuminated to the point of sterility, like in the William Soler Hospital in Havana

The buses remind of the English Leylands from the seventies in Cuba. The Metro reminds me of the trains that back in the eighties were called “specials.” The girls in Washington are insanely beautiful. A certain Casablanca power irradiates every corner, especially now that winter is already dying and there are still enough green leaves and doors where we can find casual shelter for our hearts.

The world of the United States continues to be like an O’Henry story.

Forgive me. The truth is that it’s four in the morning and I assume it will be another sleepless night. We Cubans have provoked a massacre in Venezuela and the worst part in this sister nation is yet to come. Moreover, I am not in Cuba and so there are weeks when Havana always makes me cry at this hour.

The sky is red in DC, like that of my city illuminated by the threat of rain and the exhaust from the Nico Lopez refinery in Regla. A blazing chimney hijacked from Shell or Esso or Texaco more than half a century back: from owners who have already died at supposedly more proletariat hands, but today they, also, are dead. The refinery, like me, we have been left very alone, listing in a corner of the bay, two ghosts of insomniac smoke, inertial.

I don’t want to stay in this country. Here I’ll never watch a movie in context. Here I will never be able to stand on a corner and understand my position without turning on the GPS. Here Castro’s political police could murder me, like so many Cubans before and Venezuelans today, but at least they can’t harass or arrest me, if I’m  entirely missing the body is me. I’m tired of not being Orlando Luis. It’s even hard to write well, don’t you notice?

It’s twice as hard to be me here. The prize is that, when with you I write in Cuban, I’m back in my free Cuba mind, the same in which I was exiled these last five years, when I opened my blog in 2008 and the former Minister of Culture Abel Prieto immediately announced that I could never again publish on the Island.

Many planes fly in Washington, D.C. This is something new in Havana. Since I’ve been in the United States my asthma is cured, but every night I need air a little more. I’ve lived precisely in the air, borrowed, as in hospital rooms where there are no oxygen tanks nor memories. I know my lungs are going to close up entirely, the words, the nightmares of being back among my loved ones on the Island, the patience of never going back to see my house, of not saying goodbye because I left for just three weeks, then for three months, and then for three years. And now I understand it will be for three lives.

I know I’m surrounded by the damned circumstances of Cubans everywhere. “Damned” in the sense of “mischievous,” which was the word where we were kids and the first of our parents hadn’t died. Nor the first of us.

But I will be strong and light like a ray of sun. I will never leave you alone, it is a promise of a lost country. If I didn’t leave you alone being a prisoner there in Cuba, much less will I abandon you being free here and now. Just wait a little until this vertigo passes, this dizziness. Forgive me again, suddenly I really want to vomit.

The night is deep. The Spanish readings have something of a talisman. Every book now turns out to be a sacred object, like in childhood. A bible of truth. I believe I am more free. Expect anything from me. I love you.

9 March 2014