In honor of Naman’s birthday, this is something I wrote about him while I was in Cuba earlier this summer.
It is inconceivable to me how much harder it is to be here after Naman. I plan for all the times I will miss him in America. Graduation, awards ceremonies, memorials, fundraisers, whatever. But Cuba? I didn’t expect all of Dominican popular music to follow me here, which I suppose was naïve.
I guess I just didn’t count on it. I didn’t count on him.
I never thought Havana could surprise me again. Or at least, I thought it would continue to surprise me in the same sort of ways it always has. But instead Havana had something new in store: memories of something old. Of someone who will never grow old.
He was never even here, but now I see him all over the streets of Havana. I think of him more than the residents of the Real World house, more than last year’s Cuba kids, more than all the Cubans I have left behind. He’s in the music, the conversations with the people. The boat rides and palm creations and children’s hand stands. The silly things the students do, the choppy Spanish and the Harry Potter references. Accio memories.
I suppose in this way, he will never grow old and will never go away. He will keep traveling the world as I do, as we all do. He will show up in Ghana and South Africa, the Dominican Republic and Cuba. He will be there at every Best Buddies race, and every SEI event. He will be there whenever I hear Prince Royce, eat a cheap taco, or sing karaoke.