A few weeks ago, I had the opportunity to meet with my brother and his wife in Miami. It was a crazy special moment, not only because I got to see them, but also because I could get together with all my Cuban/Cuban-American family. For the occasion, I decided to take my film camera to experiment a little bit.
Three weeks later, I have the first few prints of the event. Shooting film not only doesn’t allow you to see how you did right at that moment, but also forces you to wait a few days or week to see the results. In my experience, every trip has a decompression/debriefing time, this is when you process everything that happened, people you met, memories, etc. This is the moment that will determine whether the memories were positive or negative and how I will feel about a place in the future. This, for me, comes 2 or 3 days after arriving back home, while downloading pictures. With film, it’s come 3 weeks later. Every image I’ve printed has brought memories of the time with my family, for around 15 to 30 minutes, depending of the time I give to each image. We don’t dedicate nearly as much to a digital photo!
I would like to share a picture of the prints drying. Very bad quality, but I felt the need to share it.
In the first image, Erica and Gaby (their first time in Miami and first time with my Cuban family) take a “selfie” with some women of the family. This is a very special image for me because it symbolizes how quickly a relationship took shape (this was 4 or 5 hours after our arrival!). The second picture is even more powerful and, if you’ll allow me, sentimental. My grand-uncle (does that word even exist in English?!) Guille (just like my brother) and Lina (my adoptive grandma) sitting outside in the garden. Guille is among the first, if not the first, to arrive to the US from Cuba many decades ago. Escaped a dictatorship, left everything behind, and set up a business in New Jersey. Worked really hard. Now retired in Florida many years later, Cuba is still the center of his conversations. That’s how much a country means to someone. This passion and fire is shared among every single one of them, in very different ways, different generations. It blows my mind that, just a few miles away from where they all sit, is the land that saw them grow, a land many of them feel cannot visit again and, even if they could, nothing could ever be the same way it used to be at “El Jardín” (The Garden, as they referred to their childhood home in Havana). I wanted to convey a little bit of Guille’s character and leave a lasting memory of him.
This trip has brought back to my mind all the family I’ve left behind in Spain, not only a brother and my parents, but also cousins, an uncle and an aunt who are very special to me. I love you all and I’m humbled to be part of such a big and international family.