I've taken Spanish a few times in my adult life, and I also lived with a native Spanish speaker for over twenty years. You'd think that would leave a mark, but not so much. In recent weeks, with my CD player on, I find myself in my car repeating phrases such as, "Yo tengo mucho frio."
It's humiliating. I wind up the hills, saying "Que tiempo hace en abril?"
Then I answer myself: "Llueve en abril."
Ridiculous. I won't even be in Spain in Abril. I need to know the weather in Septiembre and Octubre. But no matter--I'm off to thinking about the months of the year and the calendario.
I speak English, and I speak and read French and Spanish un poco, un petite peu. All my life, I've taken classes in these languages. I've read literature in Spanish and French. I still have a dreamlike memory of one novel I read in Spanish, a book our teacher ordered for it. Later, I learned it was something like young adult fiction, but I see the plot as though through a haze. There was a strange house, a weird man. Who knows what was going on.
The last novel I read in French--well, it was so difficult, it took me 20 minutes a page. There was a wood chopper neighbor, a cottage, a woman leaving her life. There you have it. My knowledge of their literature in the original language.
I don't know which language is which, though, when I get to France. I answer in the wrong language, usually a combination of both. In Spain, I'm sure I'm do a mash of Franish, trying to buy some chorizo. I'll ask for the wrong thing at the wrong time. I'll keep telling them that it's Abril. I'll ask for the bathtub. I wander the streets of Barcelona looking for my lost hat, my missing sock. I'll be the scourge of the nation, a reckless user of language, a sad sack of words.
Watch out. Here I come.
Causes Jessica Inclán Supports
Women for Women International Goodwill Industries Lindsey Wildlife Museum Freecycle.org