My eldest daughter just graduated from college! The graduation was so satisfying, watching all these young adults saunter around campus, so proud, so hopeful. We followed the graduation with a family trip to Cuba. Our new graduate was given the task of choosing our vacation destination. She decided on Cuba for a number of reasons, among them to use her Spanish and to beat the throngs of American tourists that will overwhelm the country soon enough. But most importantly, she wanted to honor her grandmother (“Nana”) who had lived in Havana for several years after fleeing Franco’s Spain as a young adolescent.
And so we embarked on our journey. One day we took the wildly colored 1950’s convertible taxis in search of Nana’s childhood home. As we squeezed through the tiny streets of Old Havana, I couldn’t help but compare the women on the road with all of the strong, young women I had just watched cross the stage for their diplomas. The Cuban women had strength, but of a different variety than their young American counterparts. They walked the streets with purpose, like our young graduates. They danced to the music with style and joy, like our young graduates. They are beautiful and poised, like our young graduates. But the women I observed seemed to carry the weight of their history on their shoulders. They did it with confidence, though, and not with the gravity that I had expected. They reminded me of our beloved Nana. She was so present in the subdued confidence of these Cuban women.
I came home reinvigorated. I want to capture the poise, the dance, the intelligence of these Cuban women, of Nana, of our young graduates, each in their separate ways. I can’t wait to get to work!