7 January 1959 – The US recognises the new Cuban government of Fidel Castro

Cuban Flag

It’s awkward. You spot someone way up the other end of the corridor and maybe its the way your eyes find it hard to focus because of the carpet’s grainy patterned fuzz or the washed-out fluorescent light but at first you can’t tell who it is. Then, it’s the walk that gets you. A little juicier, a little jauntier, than you’re used to. Sure, the same fluid grace but somehow different. So you’re confused for a moment until something clicks. A little swivel of her hips and you’re all like – Hey, Cuba! – arm rising in that initial arc of a friendly wave.

And a little tidal wave of thought is rising, too, with your arm. A whole history that makes that friendly wave harder to pull off. More equivocal.

Sure there was the thing with the Spanish boyfriend and you are definitely the good guy in that story. But then when you were going steady were you a little too controlling of where she went and who she saw? She says you didn’t let her spend her money on her things, but you were looking out for her. And she’s – you don’t care how hot she looked in that slinky guayabera halter dress, but there’s influence and there’s control. And you’re happy for a dame to have influence. But control. That’s a guy thing.

Though maybe building that chicken coop in her mother’s yard to keep your own chickens, was, you know, too much? What with the electrified fence and all. But it’s a rough neighbourhood.

So you feel your smile freezing into place and your arm is momentarily there caught just in front of your face. Not too late to pull out of the wave. Cuba hasn’t met your eyes yet. Clench your fist and follow through a little and it’s the red salute. Which would, you figure, be ironic. But not good irony –  you’ve never handled the distancing and disregard of irony too well, pretending that things don’t matter when you know damn well they do. And you think you know Cuba well enough by now to know that it would not be received well.

So you slide right past what would probably be taken as mockery and your arm follows through overhead to smooth down your hair. Like that’s what you intended to do all along. And it almost feels natural and – god – you hope it looks natural. Like the first thing on your mind when you are eyeballing Cuba again for the first time in how many years is how you look.

But her smoky eyes are still downcast and she’s striding down the corridor. Refusing to look at you, you would have to say. It’s got to be deliberate. Like she has something on her mind and she’s holding it close. Not willing to signal at a distance how things are going to go down when she finally recognises you.

File under: cold war heat | the end of the affair

(Photo source: Flickr)

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Stories and other writing by Ben Thurley

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