Love / Amor

You met him in the deep of the winter. Beast of the East, they called it, when the snows piled up, the icy winds blew and the temperature fell down below zero. He’s not bad, you thought, at first, but even then you had to admit you found him attractive. Then you got to know him better. You bonded over music. Latin American music, the old and the new, popular or obscure, it didn’t matter, you both liked it all. It was the music of his lands.

And then, as the spring arrived and days got longer, it became harder and harder to stop thinking about him. Then you found out he felt the same.

It was a long, hot, passionate summer.

People couldn’t believe it; four months without a single raindrop? Continuous sunshine? What miracle! The two of you just laughed. It was no miracle. Of course it was that way, because it made sense. It was the summer made for you, hot like those faraway lands.

You danced, always. Salsa, merengue, or just swaying from side to side with no rules. You ate melons at midnight. Sunday afternoons you spent lying in bed playing old love songs. Te quiero. And Buena Vista Social Club.

It was a long summer.

When it started getting colder, it only meant you wrapped yourselves under a blanket. Autumn leaves crunched under your feet when you went for a walk in the park. Once you shared the same scarf. People laughed at that.

They had no idea.

You looked forward to the long winter nights. Te quiero…

But it turned out it wasn’t just the year that was running out. His visa too.

No big deal, he’d just get it renewed, you thought. But he couldn’t. Home Office rejected it.

That Halloween monster was real. You were going to lose him. He had to go back to his country.

It shouldn’t have surprised you, you’d heard all about the “hostile environment”. Never had it occurred to you to apply it to your own situation but here it was. There was nothing to be done.

On a rainy November day, you said your goodbyes. I’ll do what I can, he said. He was devastated. It wasn’t just you, he didn’t want to leave UK.

We’ll be alright, you assured him. What will be, will be. Que sera, sera.

Months have passed since then, winter came and went, nowhere near as cold as the one year before, followed by weak spring and rainy summer. Once again the old order was restored.

If you’re lucky, you don’t get all soaking wet.

Amazingly, you’re still in touch with him. You message each other regularly and video call as much as you can from one hemisphere to another. Attempts to obtain new visa were unsuccessful so far, but he’s not losing hope.

You don’t talk about him to anyone much. People get uncomfortable any time immigration is brought up. Some mumble something about hoping you two will be reunited soon and change the subject. Other try to lecture you on long distance. Like you asked… You secretly laugh at them. They have no fucking idea.

You play Buena Vista Social Club and dance around your flat. They have no idea how good it feels.

Out on the busy streets, you put your headphones on to block out the noise. Chan Chan. It’s your signature tune.

You look up at the sky in daytime and at moon at night, the same sky and the same moon he’s looking at. “Hey, we’re still on the same planet!”

He might try Spain, he says. He seems to be more optimistic about that.

You’re not worried. You know you’ll meet again.

And so another day comes by and you look at the sky again and he’s on your mind and you’re on his mind and you listen to the same songs at the same time.

“But don’t you feel lonely?” some boring person asks you. “No, why would I?” you answer. They gasp. You shrug and put your headphones back on.

They don’t get it and never will.

But you do.

Because you have known love.

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