How Far Does Friendship Go and Love Begins?

I have written these lines for almost a year now when seeking information on February 14th , I found that since 2011, the UN General Assembly decreed July 30th as the International Day of Friendship. I applaud this as a gesture to the understanding of peoples, but I believe that (at least) in Venezuela, Dominican Republic, Cuba, Mexico, Ecuador and Peru they do well in celebrating in a single day love and friendship: the fourteenth day of the second month of the year.

The problem is that I very much believe in friendship and love. But I don't know if it’s whether for the time I lived in, I am utterly convinced that I have been better lover and friend than possibly wife. I have never thought the relationship with a man other than a friend and to reach that point many tiny bits are needed. The first one is to keep both freedoms which don’t imply other relationships. And sometimes lovers suffocate; you can’t tell your lover what you can tell a friend: “give me a chance, now I am busy in a paragraph.”

I don’t deny, even that there might a single sexual relationship you had and remember with such tenderness that those involved feel that they have had one night or two hours of LOVE.

But is perhaps love tied to just sex? I don't think so. Behind a great friendship where there is complete trust between a man and a woman, there is a bit of love. Of course when that spark of desire goes on unexpectedly, as it happens in most of human experiences, it can be sad. Gabriel García Márquez defined it well “The worst way of missing someone is to be seated next to them and knowing that you will never be able to have them.”

It was my beloved Karl Marx, a man I will always worship, (obviously!) who wrote in his economic and philosophical Manuscripts of 1844: “Let’s suppose that the man is a man and that his relationship with the world is humane: then he can only trade love for love, trust for trust, etc. () If you love without being loved in return, that is, if your love in unrequited; if through a living expression of yourself as a lover, you don't become a loved person, then your love is powerless: it’s a heartache.”

In fact if my Moor had in Jenny the wife, friend, collaborator (and perhaps some other relationship besides that marriage) he enjoyed a paradigmatic friendship with Friedrich Engels. Was there love? Yes, and I’m not speaking of carnal relationship, but of that feeling that made possible a monument to friendship chiseled day by day, with a total and selfless commitment.

That man, Fidel, the greatest in the 20th century, in March 1997 told my colleagues Magda Resik and Alina Perera: “No love is similar to another. Love has a lot of chemistry and there are as many loves as chemistries. Love also needs tactics. It’s a contradiction, without contradictions it withers. There are shorter loves, longer loves, more peaceful loves…”

And he added “one always likes to be courted, but I rather court a woman, because when they court me, I felt harassed, I didn't know what to do, it bothered me to be harassed.”

He advised us “Women should never show men too much man that they love him, because when a man finds out they are madly in love with him they get arrogant. The indifference is the greatest stimulant of love”. Although he admitted that in his youth to be courted was “pleasant if he liked the girl.”

Fidel, the love of many Cuban women, on giving flowers said “Yes, I liked it. I could hardly do it” and if woman gave flowers to him “I was really moved.”

Well I am almost finishing: according to the Royal Spanish Academy of Language friendship is personal, pure and disinterested fondness, shared with another person and is born and grows strong with the treatment; concubinage (Action and effect of living together: to establish a marital relationship without mediating marriage bond) and it’s also Likeness, connection among things; while love is: intense feeling of the human being that, from his own inadequacy, needs and seeks the encounter and union with another being; feeling toward another person that we are naturally attracted to and that, offering reciprocity in the desire of union, it completes us, it makes us happy and gives energy to cohabit, to communicate and create as well as feeling of affection, inclination and commitment to someone or something. Aren’t they alike?

I’ll go to bed now and as today I have thought a lot, I will stop in a few moments: I will watch Richard Gere and Julia Robert in Pretty Woman, (a melodrama, a fantasy, an entertainment…) I will fall asleep like that, maybe I’ll get to the scene where she sits on the border of the balcony, while he doesn't because he is afraid of heights.

The film reproduced in fiction what some time ago happened to a person I respect a lot, I laughed and he never knew what of. Forgive me Rolando, I know you are convalescent and you will criticize me for falling asleep watching that movie and not with one of the good ones you run on your TV show The Seventh Door, but… man, today is not Friday, you know that many times I record them and watch them next day! Today I need not to think anymore, just watch the movie until I fall asleep. Ah, happiness for those who love, in any of the possible ways!!!! And let’s do it every day.

Amilkal Labañino Valdés / Cubasi Translation Staff

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There’s no Smoke. Without Fire?

In love matter and couple relationships there isn’t a unique formula. Everything is relative and it depends on one’s own experiences.

They say people always return to the places where they were happy and that same could be said about couples. Who doubts it? If the relation is over for certain reasons, but it was riveted with love and passion, is hard to move forward. There will always be the threat that that “flame” rekindles.

In fact, when a new couple begins sometimes it happens that one of them is jealous of the ex-boyfriend or girlfriend, precisely for that reason that “there’s no smoke without fire.”

The saying is as old as life itself. The memories take me, even, to distant stories in the time that corroborated its validity, regardless the years, physical spaces and certain environments.

A letter, a picture, a phone call, any detail takes us back, to the memories of a love we haven’t been able to get rid of. Who hasn’t had an event like those?

There are loves and loves. Some go unnoticed; other fade away during the

break–up, and those that stay for life, put in a corner in our hearts, in silence, barely sleeping.

This happens not only to women, but men also. It’s true that great loves don’t die, regardless of age and sex.

An instant, a life, a passion

His name was Orlando and he came into her life when they were just kids. They went to school together and the mutual attraction built on in those moments that for others “the matter is not serious.”

Years made that that mutual affection, born at the heat of adolescence, stayed there. He married someone else, others and she, like Penelope, didn't get tired of waiting for him.

The years also brought the reunions. It was, simply, something very deep and great what she felt for that boy whom she never stopped seeing with the tender eyes of love. Passion crossed the threshold of adulthood, it even reached elder age. But she never quench —it did not ever crossed her mind— the ashes of that love.

If the winds blow, the ashes…

It’s difficult to put bring forth the issue and not meet people’s opinions. There are always approaches and in this case, as in other matters, we are far from unanimity.

“If it was a stormy relationship it leaves you a bad memory—says Mariela— nevertheless, if it was something beautiful you can’t forget it. There are times in which everything ends and one fine day reunion knocks at your door. Then more experienced and, working on things that didn’t go well, things are done differently. There are some who have been lucky in this sense and second chances have been great.

“In my case? —she explained with mischief—I sometimes have the smoke flying around somewhere, half scrambled, and if the wind blows a little bit, then the fire is sparkled. Maybe that’s the reason why I avoid the nearness to certain people. The past is not forgotten, although it hurts.”

Elisa doesn't think very different. “Where there’s smoke there was fire? I cannot give an absolute answer, everything depends on the circumstances, the moment, the scenario, the chance. Life is full of colors, it’s like a rainbow.

“There is no smoke in me, the good memories, the love, the friendship still linger. Other people have filled those voids, and that has helped me to bury the old love. It’s a lie the past is forgotten, but I don't like second chances.”

What do they believe?

With less words than them to express their feelings openly, the same happens with men. They fall in love, suffer, get lovesick, and they also keep their emotions away regarding previous couples.

Reinaldo—plastic arts artist—saw his dreams shattered when Marta abandoned him. In his paintings he reflects the sadness of his soul. Years later he met Julieta who with patience and love turned his life around.

However, I have always wondered—not enough courage to approach the question—what is left of the past. Very few words are needed, I’m convinced that there’s no way he has been able to put aside the images of that laughing girl, of blue eyes, who made him sighed, and boy he did it!

Alejandro's story has its common points. In the 80’s he traveled to a socialist country where he studied. Back then like many of his age, he left behind not just country, family, but also a passion. Each one of them got married, built homes and families, but there was always some hint (it could be curiosity) of interest from each other.

A gay friend confessed that after having lost a long-term relationship he has never been the same again. “Even my mood change and although I have not been able to rebuild my life, and I know I can’t go back with my previous couple, I won't tell you I put him on the room of oblivion. There is always a detail, a song, a memory that takes me to the past, to that past that made me so happy and which I know won't return.”

Amilkal Labañino Valdes / Cubasi Translation Staff

  • Published in Specials
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