“I’m a terrible dancer,” I’ll announce. “The worst. Terrible, but confident. A deadly combination.”
The words flow effortlessly.
“I’m not a very good cook.”
“I’m kind of a bad driver.”
“Sometimes I can’t even dress myself.”
I like to throw these zingers about because if there’s anything people hate, it’s a bragger. And, if you want to get all Good Will Hunting about it, there’s the part of me that self-attacks to control the situation. Strike first.
“Nancy,” my husband says, “You know this doesn’t translate very well. People really do think you can’t cook. And they really do think you can’t drive.”
“And that I kill plants,” I add.
“Because you tell them that.”
I think to my burnt tortillas and goopy lasagne, my languishing aloe plant, and my passenger-side mirror dangling from the side of my car. “Well, it’s kinda true.”
He sighs, “Well, you kinda make it true.”
He’s right, of course. It’s much easier to be the clown then to take a risk. To say, “I write little things just for me,” instead of “I really want to be a professional writer,” or “I speak a little Spanish,” instead of “I strive to be bilingual.”
I’ve tasted failure before. Countless articles and stories submitted, and rejected. Snubs large and small. I understand that the anticipation of loss is usually worse than the real thing.
So, what’s this have to do with living in Spain? Translating oneself. When one has to think about how to say, “I’m a bad mother,” or “My shoes are ugly,” you realize the weight of the words a bit more. You feel them, like small, bumpy stones in your hands.
Part of our decision to move here was to translate our lives into something more beautiful. Trading sleet and a grande Starbucks for sunshine and a cafelito. More walks on the beach, and less time in the car. We yearned to nurture our family, our table, our future.
And perhaps some of this nurturing involves a bit of balance. Occasionally saying, “I’ve really learned a lot this year,” or “My hair looks really pretty today.”
I planted a yucca plant today. I set it into the soil, patting down the dirt and sand. I watered it, and placed it near the light. I did a good job. It’s beautiful. And under my care, it will flourish.