My suitcase has worn out its wheels in five years of rolling around the house, from one corner to the other. The underwear stored in the little thing has lost its elasticity and its color has faded. The airline tickets I never used are gone, after postponing them over and over they ended up in the trash. My friends have said goodbye to me so many times and so many times I didn’t go, that the farewell has become routine. The cat adopted as his own that handbag I never managed to take on a plane, and the dog chewed on the shoes meant for a trip I could not take. Nor did the picture my friend gave me of the “Virgin of Good Travel” resist the test of time and even the shine in her eyes has gone out.
After five years of demanding my right to travel outside the country, today I woke up to the news of travel and immigration reform. My first impression was to shout “Hurrah!” mid-morning, but as the day advanced I considered the shortcomings of the new law. Finally the objectionable Permit to Leave has been eradicated, as well as the annoying Letter of Invitation that we needed to leave our own country. However, now in the issuance and validation of passports they will define those who can cross the national frontiers and those who cannot. Although the costs of the paperwork will be less and I imagine the time required shortened, this is not the new travel and immigration law we were waiting for. Too limited, too narrow. But at least it has put in writing a legality as a starting point from which we can now demand, protest, denounce.
In my case I am going to believe – until January 14, 2013 – that I am not on any “black list” and that the ideological filters to leave have come to an end. I will fill out the application for a new passport, and wait with that dose of ingenuousness necessary to survive, to not become apathetic. I will be there when they open the doors to decide which Cubans can board a plane and which will continue under the “insular imprisonment.” And my suitcase will be at my side, with worn out underwear, unworn shoes, and a pale picture of Mary who no longer knows if she’s leaving or returning, if there are reasons to be happy or to be satisfied.