I say this every time I speak Spanish. I say it to warn people, why I speak the way I do. By the way, for the record, “castellano” is the word used in the Argentine dialect of Spanish, not “español.” And if you are from Buenos Aires (BA) you would say with a z where the double ll is: castezhano.
Our Trader Joe’s opened today. Everyone was upbeat and friendly. I walked there from Paco’s school. 10 minutes later I was there. Pushing Lemon around. We shopped from the stroller. We bought snap peas to munch, the family’s favorite cereal and chicken taco rolls. On the way back, through the parking lot, there was an older woman smoking and I walked by her. I tend to be not offended by smoking. She apologized and I said, “oh, don’t worry.” But I had to ask her where she is from. The accent to her English was so…Hoodi. She said “Argentina.”
So I started my spiel about my in-laws and etc. (in my thick fake accent when speaking Spanish). And a new friendship began. She is about my mom’s age and her husband and 40-year-old son had still been inside Trader Joe’s and emerged. And they gave me a wonderful Spanish lesson. Now and then the son and I would switch to English, if it were complicated for me, but most of the time, the 15-minute chat was zhhh and vos. Our beloved neighbors walked by and I introduced them. And for a glorious 5 minutes my community expanded. My neighbor, Libby, she wanted to practice as well.
I had read that Davis had the 2nd highest rate of average education in the country. (Alexandria, VA is first). I wonder, is that why everyone is so open and friendly? Arrogance seems clipped by the MD or PhD standing next to you. Everyone is happy to share culture differences. Everyone wants to contribute. What do I have? A lack of fear of my fake accent in Spanish.
I walked home with a spring in my step. Any day I get to speak to a Porteño (someone from Buenos Aires), verifies my love of Spanish and verifies how I was encouraged to speak the same as Caro, Germán, Julieta and mis suegros. The experience has held my interest for so long now. Steve wants to go to Spain, which would be great. But part of me longs to live in Argentina. For a length of time where I would learn more words, drink the wine, eat the beef, and finally get the subjunctive tense down.
The afternoon passed with friends downtown and the crazy Halloween festival. Lemon was the octopus that stole the downtown promenade. The little round face and the tentacles drew comments from everyone we passed. I seem to be complaining about him of late. I whine about the wrestling to change a diaper, the throwing food across the room., the screams if he cannot see me.. But I forget his talent is charm. That child can get a smile out of most. I have to remind myself more often: I can change his diaper. I could be in a position where I could not.
Paco loves knowing people. We hear “Paco” wherever we go. Today, we ran into a grandmother (the Spanish Perla) and then another dad while downtown. We ran into lots of people, but these were closer friends. Friends where play dates had taken place. I was in Pluto’s (for the Sacramentans, it is like Jack’s) and the guy handing out candy was named Germán. I somehow knew it was not just any Germán (I have met a few from Mexico before, but one of our closest friends is from Ventura, CA, with Argentine parents and has lived in Argentina). Yes, the cook handing out candy was from BA. The next thing I knew, our friend Eli walked in and he was on the cooking team at Plutos. Eli is awesome, from Honduras and he knows how much I want to practice. And he did. And his compañero did as well.
Today, I got to have a conversation class with four Argentineans, a Honduran and a Spaniard. There were even hugs and kisses involved.
My frustration of the day is that Tarceva seems to have really damaged my system. I am having minor issues. The top at the tongue and the bum-bum are irritated. Ugh. I thought of a bright side. I have started to remember names better. I have switched taking the anti-seizure meds to only at night and I feel that is helping my coherence during the day (it can make you soooo sleepy). Is it strange to feel that I need to start letting go of label I have given myself? Walking miracle? Nah. I won’t let go of that.
Every day I am alive, that is true.
Juli, Susy D, Cristina, Caro and Judy. These women encouraged me to speak Spanish like those I speak to the most. When I started, it was Juli and Judy, who both lived in BA for long period of their lives. And every time I meet a native Argentinean, I get complimented again and again on how well I speak. The work of these 5 women, who switch to English when it is serious, know to teach me during every moment of talking. I don’t get to see them as I wish I could, but every time I speak Spanish, they are with me.
Ugh. I still cannot nail the subjunctive. For this, I need to practice and read more.