*Names of individuals have been changed for privacy purposes*
Okay, okay…if you’ve been following along the posts closely, you’ll realize I left out the Cuban/American romance story. Let me preface this by saying the story did not involve me…which probably decreases the allure of reading this post, BUT it’s a story we all may be able to learn from, so I recommend you keep reading. One of Camilo’s “godsons” (read last week’s blog to learn more about Camilo) was visiting Cuba during the time we were there. His name was Michael. Michael’s from the Bronx and I am still not quite sure how he knows Camilo, as we were told three different versions of the story during the week we were there.
During a previous trip to Cuba, Michael met a woman named Rosa. Camilo mentioned her to Sam and me, and as soon as he did, Michael started to glow. I asked Michael some questions about Rosa and he became super giggly and tried to change the subject. He was beaming at the thought of her. Funny thing is, neither of them say more than two words in the other’s language and are completely unable to communicate in any way other than gestures or via Camilo’s translation. I wasn’t quite sure how you could become so enamored with someone that you couldn’t technically talk to, so I was curious to see them interact. Michael wanted to buy her some food, so we did and headed over to her place to drop it off. Sam and I introduced ourselves and then stood outside the gate that surrounded her house and waited.
The two of them sat down on a bench and didn’t say a word to each other. They both would take turns shyly glancing at one another and smiling, but literally, did not say one word to each other. After about two minutes of this (I was totally staring and being nosy), Michael called Camilo over to translate. You could imagine that it’s a little awkward trying to flirt / get to know someone via a translator, so Michael just asked some basic questions like, “How was work today? Do you work tomorrow? What time? Could I stop by?” That was the extent of the conversation. Despite the awkwardness, after witnessing the situation and analyzing the energy between them, Sam and I both agreed…they’re in love. You could just feel it. Not sure how, but it was evident. After spending a total of ten minutes together, they hugged and went their separate ways. We began walking back to our place and Michael didn’t say a word about the interaction, so we didn’t ask.
Maybe this isn’t the steamy romance story you were hoping for when you started reading today, but this story was significant to me and I’ll tell you why. A lot of us feel overwhelmed by the seemingly negative state of relations between different groups of people in the world today. When you log on to Facebook or turn on the news, there are a lot of stories of intolerance and blatant hate. Some people are alienated because of misunderstanding, some people are expelled because of generalizations and assumptions. Some people isolate themselves and only interact with others like them because it is comfortable, predictable and safe. The love, the friendship, the attempt at understanding between Michael and Rosa became a symbol for me; a symbol of the respect people can still have for one another despite their differences. They TRY to understand each other and that’s really what matters. When you approach every human with an open heart, when you realize that we are all just humans in search of companionship and love, you will realize that we are all the same and that there is no space for hate or discrimination. All you can do is TRY; try to understand why a person is the way they are, try to understand their culture and where they come from, try to see that although you may take different paths through life, we are all valuable human beings who deserve equality and friendship. Michael and Rosa are a beautiful example of the universality of love and pure human connection…a beautiful example of the love that ensues when you’re focused on breaking down walls, rather than building them.