(No puedo hablar la lengua.)
I cannot speak my father's native tongue.
(No puedo hablar suficiente...)
At least, not enough of it to get by.
(...no entiendo, lo siento.)
The body I inhabit feels like foreign territory.
(No lo se.)
My grasp of it ends here.
I. OTRA VIDA
Dia de san valentin, 2000: mi padre aprendió inglés por amor; voló a través del mar Mediterráneo. Él tiene miedo de los sonidos cuando trata de hablar. Pero él lo intenta. Él habla casi perfectamente -- mientras, estoy teniendo una conversación uno-a-uno con Google. Es vergonzoso.
I recall two or three trips, max. There's a blend of urban and natural that's a haven for the eye -- the buildings themselves are seduced by the sun; divine blends of amber, tawny, white. Classically Romantic. That nighttime humidity fogs up your lungs and makes it feel like a hug. There was a time when we were poised to move back there - and in Dad's case, another, nearly leaving without any desire to take me with him.
My makeshift home is built upon stereotypes: orange trees, olive oil, generous glasses of vino. Pienso qué un otra vida where I'm stood on the beach at dusk, with heavy-lidded eyes and ears attuned to cicadas and rolling waves. This is narcissistic lust for the woman I could've been - she is all smiles, bilingual, peace embodied. Those are the nights when I'm not careful: she leaves my bed by morning.
II. ESTA VIDA
To mourn the "what ifs" shows a lack of gratitude for what is, and god, what luck! For inglés to be the second most-spoken language, de-facto "centre of the universe"! To migrate most anywhere and get by; for the Western world to be coerced into Anglophonic bliss since tourism makes their ends meet!
On a holiday, I clam up ordering "una batista fresa" and get a taste of how my father feels. José Francisco: his colleagues call him Frank, in the same way I shun my legal surname because a Spanish 'LL' is too hard for others to grasp. I reek of privilege - post-post-Franco, white European, playing with my non-language behind closed doors. There's private delight in a rolled 'r': momentarily, I'm local, not a mere faux-foreigner appropriating my own heritage. Ironic - he tries to be "less immigrant" whilst I've got the fortune of trying to be more.
I was born into a universe of possibilities. A million options feel like fate -- screenwriter, Oxford grad, Spanish barmaid-or-waitress-or-I'll-take-whatever -- each unchased path is a reminder that, somehow, I'm choosing wrong. I've never perceived myself as small (ex-tall child, "ex"-chubby kid with a head outstretching the clouds, first of the eleven-year-olds to grow **** and got gawped at like I'd grown an extra nostril). Outside this hall of mirrors, I am tiny -- too small to have this many dreams -- manifesting as terror-borne paralysis because I want to do more than I'm built for. Solution: aim smaller or grow up.
half-whiny, half-dreaming. i don't normally rely on google translate - i'm trying to self-teach with duolingo (occasionally enlisting grammatical help via dad).