My family, not long after arriving here from Cuba.
Fifty years ago today, my family and I arrived in the U.S.
The night before, we’d gathered just outside of Havana, my parents, my brother and I, joined by 40 other people to board a 28 foot boat to escape from Cuba.
For my parents, it was goodbye forever to the life they’d known. For my brother and me, a transformation of the promise of whatever life we’d had, or could have had, under any circumstances, in Cuba.
For this queer girl (in every sense), that’s been a gift.
Over the years, I’ve heard often enough about my parents’ courage in embarking on this journey. Those were and remain a treacherous 90 miles that now, so many years later — and regardless of whatever politics we espouse — are a grave of bones, the last refuge of all the people who didn’t make it.
But as an adult, I’ve also heard some less charitable takes on my parents’ decision. They were reckless, I’ve been told, to risk our lives like that.
The truth is that, as a parent myself now, I can’t imagine bundling my son and taking him on such an excursion.
But as a parent now, I’m also much more relieved to be here and not there. Not for the material things but for the less tangible ones: my son is growing up surrounded by a community of diverse backgrounds (Cuban and every kind of Latin American, Eastern European and Vietnamese, Irish and African and African-American, Middle Eastern, Muslim and Buddhist and pagan, Hindu and every imaginable kind of Christian and Jew, and every color under the sun, and with every family structure imaginable), diverse experience (artists and writers and political operatives, teachers and doctors and nurses and computer geeks, bankers and drug counselors and construction workers, teachers and real estate agents and PhDs and high school drop outs, bakers and stay at home moms and dads, mechanics and lawyers and journalists), diverse political affiliations (a Tea Party great-uncle, a communist — not just a lefty, a communist — cousin, a slew of Republicans of different stripes, Democrats of all sorts, anarchists on the left and right).
All of these people come and sit at our table, tell their stories, argue their ideas, and talk about their successes and their failures, their happiness and their pain.