Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Learning the Ropes, Again

When our afternoon Spanish class finishes, we usually go to a restaurant two doors down from school for café con leche and medialunas, and lately I've noticed just how tired I feel at that time of day. More often than not, I want to scrap any ideas either of us has had for the evening and go home to our apartment to read or watch a movie. This afternoon, though, I had non-negotiable errands to run: I had a notice to pick up a package at the post office, and since it's right beside the main bus terminal (Retiro), I was also going to buy bus tickets for our planned weekend excursion to Mar del Plata (the beach!). Ken was off to watch a soccer match, so after our afternoon coffee I was on my own.

These errands were really no big deal. I have picked up dozens of packages and purchased a whole bunch of tickets in my day. But doing these things in Spanish is a whole different ball game. Before I say anything to anyone, I have to think carefully about the words, the pronunciation, the conjugation of verbs. (I've already sent one email about meeting someone to go running in which I wrote, "I will wear an orange shirt. Maybe I can look for me?") I try to smile and be friendly, but I'm also hyperaware that I don't look (or speak!) like a porteña and those things make me feel vulnerable, so I also try to look confident, and like I know what I'm doing. Ref: Elle Woods.

In short, I get all anxious. And sweaty. And all that anxiety and sweat are exhausting.

I wondered today if I felt this way, this *tired*, when I first moved to New York, and I think the answer is yes, I think I did. I probably went home from work and watched TV with a glass of wine and sometimes my boyfriends Ben & Jerry dropped by. And maybe that lasted for a month or two before I started to feel more comfortable exploring that particular city, before I felt comfortable with New York's own foreign language of subway maps and taxi drivers and giant inflatable rats.

This afternoon at the post office, I successfully retrieved the package, which was was a box of FIVE, count 'em, FIVE, different varieties of chocolate chips, compliments of Candace. I don't know if increased happiness implies better language skills, but I'm pretty sure that super-thoughtful box of chocolatefriendship from Wisconsin helped me successfully purchase our bus tickets as well.

And starting next week, I plan to distract people from my misplaced pronouns with superior chocolate chip cookies.


Brianna said...

I know exactly what you mean (about NY AND speaking Spanish). I am embarrassed to say this but when I know I'm speaking bad Spanish (read: all of the time) I try to look super cute and friendly in hopes that people will forgive my poor language skills.

CurlyV said...

Your post reminds me of when I was on a volunteer trip in Provence and asked who was going to drive us to Avignon today? My French hosts started laughing because I really said "Who's going to throw us to Avignon today?" Hey, at least it was an action verb!!!