I don’t speak in Spanish daily, so when I said “Lo siento que cambiamos a ingles otra vez” while standing to leave, I really was apologizing. Our group had dwindled to four, and although the urge to switch back was a constant on, I did nothing to prevent English from becoming the sole method of communication shortly after the newest member left.
We talked, in English, about one’s wait to get a green card; the year and a half period in which America became a man’s prison, (unless he gave the grand necessary for a period of ‘parole’ without losing place in the seemingly endless line). I spoke, in English, out of turn about the citizens test- having a vague memory of once seeing a sample online.
We spoke about the stereotypes, laughed about the enthusiasm and the subsequent disappointment of one student’s eager question- how did you cross the border.
Flying can be quite daunting when routinely faced with long lines for questioning in order to clear customs, but that failed to meet the dramatic expectations of the high school student, who, like everyone else, had based his assumption, and subsequently that question, on years of incomplete, scattered, and often untrustworthy research called personal experience.
My family ignores me when trying to speak Spanish. The grad student and two Spanish teachers I sat with would not.
Voy para practicar.
Practico para crecer, mejorar, hacer algo diferente de lo que hago cada otro día.
Yo sé que no sea perfecto y no me importa.
Fue a hablar español y hablabamos inglés con dos profesores de español y dos habladores nativos y cuando yo le dijé a mi amigo de Mexicó ‘lo siento’, su respuesta era “Oh I didn’t notice”.
I notice that as soon as the conversation moves past the generic small talk we tend to switch back, that after a certain hour my brain gets tired and I stop wanting to think in a language other than my own.
I notice that the native Spanish speakers often facilitate, or at least freely participate in the change. I noticed that once outside, their closing remarks to me were in English but to each other in Spanish.
Could it be that they too noticed?
Even in a place where native speakers and beginners alike come to sound different than we do every other day, we revert to what has either always been or has become (through significant effort on their part) normal.
Could it be that they found it as rude as I did and just are too nice to say so?
This morning a friend referred to my recent pursuit of the cello as taking vitamins; stretching the brain. I go to practice. I practice to grow, improve, do something different than what I do every other day. I know that it’s not perfect and that doesn’t matter. I went to speak Spanish and I was speaking English with two Spanish teachers and two native Spanish speakers and when I said ‘sorry’ for switching back,
I was apologizing to myself.
I was responding to my own disappointment that once again I gave in to the default level of ‘easy (although as in tetris, even there I can quickly become overwhelmed).
I was responding to that inadvertent reoccurring reminder of my own ignorance, arrogance.
I know they didn’t mean anything by speaking my language instead of their own.
My silent, verbose reaction is just-
is just a product of
of my growing disgust at my own silence.
ignorance, arrogance, laziness- fill in the blank.
“Here’s another example of how sheltered you have been,
how privileged you are.
spell check will point out and fix your errors, the calculator will allow even the easiest questions to be easily verified”.
Don’t worry about it.
Memorization is no longer useful or necessary.
The net has a map- you won’t get lost.
You can quit when learning another language gets too difficult because they speak yours flawlessly.
We laugh because its not completely untrue.
Not everybody, but enough.
not just me.
i know this doesn’t flow as well as it should, but
I keep coming back to this place of embarrassment, fixated on this almost hopeless, circular state.
Native Spanish speakers speaking English at a Spanish club because I’m too lazy to try;
My sentences, my thoughts, my thought processes get messier. Choppier. Lazier. shortened.
I remember the rules
and then I’m told
Don’t worry about fragments
the teachers won’t say that, but I’m not in school. I’m in a fast paced, abbreviation happy go with the flow and ignore the punctuation type environment that encourages me that its ok if I can’t draw a world map from memory, labeling real places vs ‘where hobbits live’.
I hear the stereotypes and cannot articulate a response.
I bow my hand in shame of my ignorance and then I remember
– you’re normal-
grammar doesn’t matter here.
and when it does matter- like when published in a never read but widely available blog- I forget.
I forget the rules and go for more of a poetic vibe.
I forget my shame in not being a trivia buff.
I remember that learning a language is like taking vitamins- stretching the brain – planting seeds, choose your analogy.
I forget the purpose and wander off onto a tangent only to find that the old sayings inscribed on coffee cups across America still holds true. The journey is the exciting part, not the destination.
I do need to diligently learn- this is that season for me- but knowing that I cannot know it all should encourage.
There will always be something else to work on, learn, memorize, discover.
Not all education will be used- there may never come the chance to drop a particular fact but all education, formal and organic, is preparation and that remains essential.
– Keeping the healthy diet of constant mental stimulation pays off even when meals are long forgotten.
Keep stretching, keep running, keep exercising and be grateful for the preparation the day you do walk El Camino de Santiago, the day you are asked to carry someone else, the day you really do have to run.
I forget that a stimulating conversation in English is still stimulating and therefore I am growing, learning, taking my vitamins, choose your analogy.
– Regardless of the language, keep speaking. Keep listening, wisely. Words are words and they formulate perspective and subsequently action.