My neighbor’s lawn finally grew, the grass took root. It wasn’t due to pure luck or because it was the most expensive sort, but for the simplest reason in the world: the spontaneous result of a wish.
In preparation for a very special event and for a change, I increased my daily dose of exercise and now I walk any time during the day, no matter the hour or the weather condition, and my shoe soles wear out in a 4-mile stretch instead of my usual 2-mile tour around the traffic circle in my neighborhood. I have joined a group of enthusiastic neighbors who daily burn calories walking, jogging or running in the city’s largest park. There, just like in my neighborhood, green predominates and while I run I avoid boredom by amusing my spirit with the pleasant landscape monopolized by the made up vegetation.
A few days ago – perhaps short of time or induced by certain nostalgia, perhaps even distracted – I returned to my ordinary route. Several months had gone by since my abrupt rupture with the traffic circle of my neighborhood, but I confess that I was missing the route. The gentleness of the gigantic palm trees that shelter me from the sun under their long, wide leaves giving refuge to tens of different bird species that do not succeed in tuning together.
I was also curious about my neighbor (I told you the story in a previous article): the elegant, reserved gentleman who carries a very heavy weight in his soul that attempts against his huge desire to return to his beloved Camagüey. The same one who, very early each weekend, rests his fragile knees on his discolored garden in a fruitless attempt to reproduce a green grass that up to the present seems to be more fertile in his memories of when he was a child than in the piece of land that closes the entrance to his beautiful residence of Miami Lakes.
Turning around the corner I slowed down my step; I was running, to be honest I was jogging while talking on the phone to a good Cuban friend who temporarily lives in Spain, who – in spite of his not telling me – I feel misses even the blackouts. “Wait”, I said, “there’s my neighbor. Yes, that one, the same one of my editorial a few months ago, the one with the agonizing garden.” I hung up abruptly and was surprised: there was my neighbor, standing right in front of his house, elegantly dressed, erect and pretentious, proudly observing his garden. The wear of his knees had borne fruit.
”Hello, Cancio, how are you? It’s been long since I last saw you. How’ve you been?” he said with completely unfamiliar courtesy. “Very well, thank you for asking”, I replied, somewhat confused. “How are you? I asked. “Pleased”, he said,”satisfied…” “See what beautiful grass has taken root, and not only here but also in the backyard. Come, come”, he said, extremely excited.
I entered his house. On the way to the backyard, through the wide glass doors, one could clearly observe a mattress of fine green, abundant grass that covered that beautiful patio overlooking the lake. “Don’t be ashamed”, he said, “take off your shoes and walk”. I did, I walked barefoot on my neighbor’s lawn. Never had I felt the pleasure of walking barefoot on such fine, padded grass. It seemed like walking on a cotton floor.
He was very polite, offered me delicious, fresh lemonade, and pointing delicately to a small corner of the patio – the only piece of bare land left – he said: “You see? It was there where it all began. There I planted the grass you are seeing today.” Then he confessed: “I had this grass brought from Cuba. A friend of mine brought it, hidden in a large earthenware jar. As you see, I haven’t been to Cuba, but I am a true Cuban.”