For a long time we had a New Year’s ritual, we met with several friends at Camilla’s house. Seated on the floor with everyone talking at once, we would put a slip of paper in a wicker basket with our name, a personal desire, a resolution and a prediction for the year about to begin. Many of us came to the gathering with our carefully thought out answers, but some Januarys it was particularly hard to predict or wish for anything, in the midst of the uncertainty of the crisis. Nevertheless, we undertook the exercise of at least imagining our lives, and of seeking or guessing what might happen to us.
Before the conclusion of this annual event, we would read the writings from the gathering of twelve months earlier, and compare them with those most recently added to the basket. That reading was a real tour of aspirations postponed, plans unfulfilled, but all we could do is laugh and continue planning new fantasies. I was rarely accurate with my auguries of what might happen on my Island, though I believe I have finished a good part of what I set out to do, more through personal stubbornness than because of the real conditions to achieve it. Among the participants at this celebration, the most repeated desire was to relocate to another country, followed, far behind, by the heartfelt desire for one’s own roof.
At each gathering around the basket, we noted that the number who managed to emigrate was growing. The so-called “party of the paper slips” thus became a roll call of the absent, an inventory of the illusions of a whole group of friends who—in the absence of expectations—preferred to weigh anchor. Even Camila, our sweet hostess, is thousands of miles from her little house in Ayestarán. These days, she may be revisiting the mountain of pledges and prophecies we wrote, and that piled up—year after year—in her room. I know that she keeps these yellowing sheets, testimony to a scattered generation, clear evidence that we never stopped dreaming, even in the hardest of times.
A big hug at this end of year to all these “pick up sticks” scattered around the world, to the commentators on this blog, to the Cuban bloggers here and abroad, of one point of view or another, to the translators of Generation Y who—voluntarily—make these texts accessible to so many, to those who transcribe the texts that I dictate over the phone and then post them on Twitter, to those who send me thousands of emails from all over the world and call my house to tell me those things that my handicap as a surfer do not let me know. To all, happiness, luck and perseverance for 2010, which begins in a few days.