Friday, March 7, 2014

The sound of silence

Brunch at ABC Cocina  |  Pre-move jitters on afeathery*nest  |
It hit me today as I stood completely blanking in the midst of our slowly-emptying apartment while wondering whether to put the pan I had just washed in the box of things to go, or in the one to donate: in a few weeks I'm going to be completely relying on another person in a way I haven't since I was a child.

I'm the go-getter, the one everyone relies on, the gal who always has her books balanced, Plans B-F on the back burner in case Plan A falters. The one who outlines, maps, forecasts, and always knows the answer to every question. That's such a massive part of who I am that the idea of it no longer being my role or persona is incredibly unnerving.

In between wrapping breakables with The New York Times and washing my hands for the seventh time, I tried to wrap my mind around the idea of being in the background. About not being able to joke around or reference pop culture-type things or understand all that's being—or not being—said. At least when we're in Italy and people are speaking too rapidly or using too much dialect, years of public school Spanish and my history with R helps me understand the general gist of what's going on around me.

But in a country with a Germanic-based language (and a penchant for smushing words together to create new, insanely long ones), it's all going to sound like jibberish. I won't have a clue as to what's going on. I can't even imagine what it will be like to depend completely on R and his family (or the kindness of strangers when I'm alone) to explain how the heck the subway system works, which government office I have to go to get signed up for the language class for foreigners, what the street sign says, and horror of horrors, which is the milk I really want at the grocery store (a place I haven't even been to in ages in NYC!).

So on the one hand, in a few weeks I'll barely be able to understand anything around me. Here in NYC I can hear three languages in my own house, countless on the street and on the subway, but the strongest, most forceful current running around me (at least in Lower and Mid Manhattan) is always English. Soon, I won't have that to depend on unless I speak first. Walking into a store or a restaurant or bumping into someone on the sidewalk won't result in an English exchange.

On the other hand, after (over)hearing a particularly obtuse conversation while stuck on the 2/3 train last night on the way to dinner at a friend's house, maybe a break from hearing (and understanding) all the mundane, the mindless, and the middling will be a most welcome relief. Silver linings and all.

One year ago: Beating the winter blues


  1. love how you always always end it with a positive spin :) maybe there are some apps that will help you do basic communication?

    1. Ha, a slightly sarcastic positive spin, but yes ;).

      And, true, there are definitely lots of apps to help, but it'll take some time before I can do it app-less, hence the teensy freakouts :). (Also will take longer bc they speak almost perfect English there, so I'll be less "forced" to learn!).


Thanks so much for taking the time to leave a note!