Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Sink or swim

I wish I could install Google Translate in my brain. Me gustaría poder instalar el traductor Google en mi cerebro. It's so convenient to type in sentences and have the equivalent phrases spit back out on the screen, even if they aren't always the greatest of translations. My brain, however, doesn't have the database to draw from to make those translations, and certainly not as quickly.

As I write, Ricardo's parents, cousin and nephew are in route to Seattle from Mexico. He hasn't seen them in over four years, which also means I haven't met them. I'm excited to see them all together: to see him receive the hugs he's missed for all these years; to join him as he sits with his dad when work is finished, drinking tequila and talking about our days; to experience cooking together and sharing some of his family's favorite meals, the flavors of his culture; to know in part the people that are so dear to him, that are a huge part of him; to see the Ricardo that comes alive when he feels truly at home.

His padres speak a few words in English and I speak not enough Spanish. We're headed for a great cross-cultural adventure this next month. I've been learning Spanish for over a year now, but it seems I can't speak any better than I did six months ago. Immersion really is the way to go, and this is the closest I'll get for now.

For a communicator and recovering perfectionist such as myself, not being able to communicate effectively is a source of frustration and dissatisfaction; but for a person learning to be fully present in the moment, full of gratitude, it is an opportunity. As my mom might say, it's like tying an Italian's hands behind her back and telling her to continue talking. Challenging at first, but then stretching me to look beyond my language capabilities - beyond my "not enough" - for other ways to communicate. Looking for other ways to see and notice and understand another person. An opportunity to develop senses not as heavily relied upon, to jump in before I feel competent or prepared enough and not judge my performance. Sink or swim.

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