Mi Espanol No Es Good-O

We have answers. Wheels up on October 9th.

The house is on the market, we’ve sold the Green Subaru, and we’ve said our goodbyes.

And now, I have to think about, you know, actually living in Spain.

I should be embarrassed that I don’t already speak Spanish. I spent my entire childhood in Arizona. We had a Mariachi dance club at my elementary school. Gobbled tamales on Christmas Eve. I heard bits of Spanish every day of my life.

I studied it in high school. Until I didn’t have to. It involved work, and for a smart kid who never had to, actually studying was not my thing. I filed it under “stupid” and went about my business.

Until I decided I wanted to be an English teacher, and found out–surprise!–that I had to take three years of foreign language. And so, I took Spanish, figuring that something would stick.

It turns out taking a foreign language at a university is fairly involved. Four classes a week. Language Lab. Viewings of Destinos.

And wouldn’t you know? I picked it up. Until I didn’t have to take it anymore.

To this day, I can figure out most written Spanish. It’s logical and lovely, full of rich, bursting syllables.

But then, some joker will attempt to speak to me.

Habla Espanol?” queries a well-meaning hombre.

Si,” I reply, “Pero…..muy malo

And then it falls apart. Well meaning hombre will start speaking rapidly, and I become this loud man-child with a penchant for adding an “o” to the end of all words.

“Mi Espanol-o es no bueno-o. Trabajo mucho pero me suck-o. Yo soy will die-o in el street-0.

El Hombre usually backs away, hands upraised, “I’m sure you’ll pick it up!”

Gracias,” I mutter. I return home in search of vino. Which isn’t even a Spanish word. Unless it is. I would know this had I PAID ATTENTION IN MY SEVEN YEARS OF SPANISH INSTRUCTION.

Let’s not even mention that my aunt is a master Spanish instructor and my brother-in-law worked in Madrid.

Part of this adventure is to embrace the foolishness. To let go of the remaining pride left after parenting two boys, and try to speak the language anyway. To be the halting, long-winded woman, pantomiming washing her hair in the drug store. To banish the ghost of my college instructor who said, “Your grammar is impeccable, but your accent makes my ears bleed.”

I want to take the brave path of humility, of learning, of starting over. Because when we are broken, we are rebuilt. And we are stronger, more lovely.

I’ll write it here, so it is real. I want to learn Spanish so well that I can become a Spanish teacher when I return to the United States.

And so, I started last night. With Breaking Bad. As the characters spoke in Spanish, I closed my eyes, and let the language wash over me. I understood the phrase “biker crank” without assistance. Yet, I caught the gist of the rest of it as well.

Drugs are bad, folks.

When I learn to speak Spanish, I hope to be discussing vino (looked it up) y fiesta y belleza y el arte y la alegria.

And I will do it this time.

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4 thoughts on “Mi Espanol No Es Good-O

  1. Nancy, you are so very special. Seriously. I giggled, I smiled like a sentimental goober, and I recalled my own struggles with language study (as a smart kid who didn’t actually dig studying all that much either).

    Spain has no idea what’s coming!

  2. Repeat after me. No pasa nada. You’ll have a blast most of the time.

    En cual parte de Andalucia viviras? (I’d make the accent marks and all but I’m on a computer that I don’t know all the ins-and-outs of.) Vivi en Andalucia hace…pues, miles de anos y me gusto muchisimo.

    Vivia en Granada y me acuerdo que a los espanoles les encantan los ninos. I’ve thought often about how adored my children would have been in Spain. They call them, mi angel, mi rey, mi vida. All sorts of different sentiments that…Well, rarely – if ever – cross my mind when I’m talking to my children. And they almost never come out of my mouth! I could really learn a lot from the terms of endearment they use. You’ll love it.

    Every once in a while, estare en la calle aqui cerca de mi casa and I’ll smell someone grilling something …maybe potatoes in foil. No estoy segura pero en aquel momento estare otra vez en las calles de Espana durante la Semana Santa. Escuchando a la musica y mirando a los penitentes cargando these crazy-heavy platforms con las estatuas de los santos por la calle. Estas muy afortunada de tener estas oportunidades.

    Tengo celos.

  3. Nancy, you are correct that vino is not a Spanish word but surprisingly, it does help the Spanish words flow when in a taxi cab in Madrid or anywhere for that matter. You are lovely and you can always speak the language that everyone understands….a smile….which you speak so well.
    Our love–from the sticks in Wisconsin.

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