Men Who Leave


The only other time I’ve said this out loud was when I was walking with Juana* in Havana.

“Julie, cuando vas a tener hijos con Frank?” (Julie, when are you going to have kids with Francisco?) she asked me as she fanned her face.

I didn’t think about what I said; it just came out. “No se,” I told her, “Tengo miedo. Tengo miedo que el me dejara.”

“I don’t know. I’m afraid. I’m afraid that he’d leave me.”

It was a fear that was irrational, ridiculous even. It wasn’t founded  in any of my own experiences with Francisco; in  fact, we’d already been talking, by this time, about having kids, a conversation he initiated. It was a fear I hadn’t even realized until I heard the words outside my mouth.  But maybe it was walking with Juana, who Francisco left with a months-old baby in Havana when he left for the US, brought the fear to speech.

She walked closer to me and took my arm. “El no te dejara.” “He won’t leave you.” “Las circunstancias en aquel entonces eran diferentes.” “The circumstances were different back then.”

And they were–I knew that. He told her he’d send for her and their son when he was settled, when he had a home and a job. And he did, but she didn’t want to leave Cuba.


I thought about the walk with Juana this weekend, when we visited our friend Ramon, also from Cuba. His father left him and moved abroad in 1960–and has never seen him again. He talked about this for the first time and the sadness in his words, in his face, were palpable.

Men who leave- why do you do it? And do you think about what happens to who you leave behind?

*Juana is the mother of Francisco’s son.


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