Today on the Front Porch we’re reading “A Different Trip” by Randy Ruiz, originally published in “Round About” the Winter 2008 issue of JOT.

Randy Ruiz

After 26½ years, I’m finally free. The time has come to go on a different trip. The time to travel to my birthplace is now here.

I want to travel to the place where it all began for me – Cuba, my beautiful island home with the palm trees, warm weather, tobacco, cafes, sugar fields, and my mother’s arms. I yearn to be able to see her beautiful smile for the first time in many years. The same smile that let me know that I was safe. The loving, caring, and warm smile from a mother who is real.

How would I feel once I saw her? How would she feel about me, her lost son coming back to her after all this time? I will see her as I remembered her, all these years.

The piece opens with “After 26½ years, I’m finally free.” Yet the tone of the piece isn’t jubilant, or celebratory. Instead, it is bittersweet—Randy is looking forward to seeing past comforts, but also sad that it has taken him so long to be able to return to his native Cuba,  where his mother still live. We’re used to seeing political freedom being described as bittersweet, as we talk about those who made the “ultimate sacrifice” so we could reach this day. Yet, as Randy shows us, even personal and private freedoms have their moments of sadness and sorrow. While you celebrate your own freedom, what do you regret, or miss? Is it the many years wasted before? Those who are not there with you?