It was exactly ten years ago that my husband, Carlos, arrived in Philadelphia from Cuba–well, from Havana to Miami and to Fort Lauderdale to Philadelphia. He made this trip all by himself and I didn’t go to the airport in Miami to meet him because school already had started and I didn’t want to miss school in the first month. What a joke–now I am sorry that he had to do that all himself, but he did and it was his adventure.
I spent that day in school a nervous wreck. It was a Friday. He had the choice of flights–September 10–when I would have to be in school– or September 11–when the date just didn’t seem right even if it was a Saturday.
He left Havana with a book bag (and it was really filled with BOOKS!), his Cuban passport and a three-month fiancé visa. For the very first time, he traveled in a plane, a small plane, and he got off in Miami and did the immigration thing with officials which probably was nerve-wracking. What happened if Immigration took too long and he missed his chance to get to Fort Lauderdale–the flight to get him to Philly?
However, all proceeded smoothly, except for the Western Union office in the airport not finding the money order that I sent him for emergency funds. Having worked at Western Union, I KNEW that the money had to be available. I made a few calls and then another clerk found it in the computer. Huh.
Next, he hopped on the shuttle bus to the airport in Fort Lauderdale.
We talked about that day this morning in our Cramer Hill home and he said that he was amazed by “river of cars” and a highway that was up in the sky in Fort Lauderdale. He couldn’t believe that so many cars had the headlights on during the day. He wondered if something was wrong–were they signaling a warning?
Then, he found his plane that would take him from Fort Lauderdale to Philadelphia. That flight went well and he followed the other passengers when it landed. My daughter, Kim, had seen his photo and she spied him first in the crowd of arriving passengers. He spied her first because I had taken her photo with me on my two trips to Cuba. (Yes, I went legally with a humanitarian visa.) Finally, the crowd thinned and we reunited with hugs and kisses.
Kim drove us to Camden. She acted as chauffeuse and we sat in the back seat. We had not seen each other for a year, but now all the e-mails and long-distance calls were not necessary. Hooray. He had made it out of Cuba. We looked at each other in relief.
I had brought a little American flag to give him and it was in the back seat of the car. He jumped in the car so fast that he didn’t see the flag. He sat on it and the stick broke. I held it up and looked sad, but started to laugh.
I joked, “George Bush might get angry,” and he looked upset because less than twenty-four hours ago, he had lived in a place where people spoke cautiously of political leaders.
Kim pulled into our back driveway. This morning he recalled the red brick. He said that he loved our split-level row house in Cramer Hill. He loved my daughter. He loved our big dog. He loved everything. He loved me.
Tonight we went out to eat to celebrate. We bought ten dollars worth of PowerBall tickets since we were celebrating ten years tonight. Even if we don’t win a penny, we are lucky. Or, rather, better said—we have been blessed with ten great years together in Cramer Hill in the wonderful USA.