Jamón Means Ham in Spanish (or how to shut up and just enjoy your trip)
"Add-dee-kah, embarazada es meaning es pregnant. Desconcertado es to be embarross-ed."
This is what I heard my new friend say when I told him I think I should be embarrassed that I knew so little spanish. This seems to sort of be the general gist of my conversations here in Spain if I'm lucky enough to meet someone who speaks a little English.
I love this. At home, it's incredibly frustrating when you're trying to get something or somewhere and you aren't understood. Maybe it's because I think I was misunderstood in my own language my whole life anyway. I somehow don't feel misunderstood here, and I'm neither embarrassed nor pregnant while I try to navigate my way through my week in Alicante.
Here, if you show your enthusiasm, you'll get the help you need, but it takes more paying attention. I have to pay attention to facial expressions and gestures, and a lot of reading of context. It's like a puzzle. Lowercase Kate's theory is that if you throw in a "muchacho" at the end of a sentence, the person you're talking to will find it just charming enough to let you get away with not knowing that we can't pleasure the rice, it pleasures us. Verbs in all languages are why I got a degree in political science.
We had lunch yesterday with Kate's family. They are the amazing couple that she lives with, Lirios and Pepe. They speak about 6 words of English combined, but they are her familia. I almost put the word family in quotes, but, they really have taken her in as their own. They love her, which anyone would want to see for the friend they worry too much about. It warms every part of me to see Kate so taken care of, and I'm happy beyond words to know she can come back to this home every night.
We were welcomed, very literally, with opened arms, kisses on each cheek and both a glass of wine and beer. We spent over an hour eating the most incredible pork stuffed with cheese and prosciutto, mashed sweet potatoes, salad, bread, fruit, coffee, and more beer and wine. All the time with Kate pivoting from one struggling conversation to the next, magnificently translating as fast as possible between us all. I was exhausted watching her, but not enough to stop talking to Pepe about the history of cave dwellings in Granada.
It was an enchanting afternoon. Even the moment when I was pantomiming the Crusades with a butter knife thinking I was showing Pepe that I understood him, only to find out that he was talking about the silk trade in Rome in the 13th century. #obviamente
Good food and wine has no language, so I got a good laugh while sopping up my plate with a fresh piece of crusty baguette.
After my third (small) ((ish)) glass of amazing Spanish red wine, Pepe said, "The Spanish know how to live." It may have been the full belly and the sore face from all the laughing, but I thought, "You ain't just whistling Dixie, brother."
Why is this kind of enjoyment the exception rather than the rule in my life? Why can't joy be the norm? Why is it that disappointment and tragedy and heartbreak are what we can assume instead of a big beautiful lunch and a hysterical bi-lingual conversation about what the hell maple syrup even is. Death and taxes is all we can depend on, right? Why don't we assume that we will have an amazing time in life, and let the bad be the thing we have a vague notion exists?
Why can't we get pizza with prosciutto and truffle oil at 9pm on a Wednesday? (DeFazio's, I'm talking to you) Why can't we go to an amazing yoga class, then get three giant chocolate filled pastries on the way to dinner? Why can't we hike half the day, gelato in hand, straight up hill to an old fort on a Tuesday just to see the view? Why can't we get wine on a corner cafe at 2pm just because? Why can't we wake up too early to stretch on the beach before sunrise every day?
Well, I don't have a beach to stretch on before sunrise every day, but that's outside the point here.
Why do we *have* to have the bad to appreciate the good? I asked Lowercase this, and she said, "Good question," then turned back to her downward dog before her exam at university.
And that's it I guess.
I read a lot into the things Kate doesn't say, because they're mostly the obvious. Like here, it's just a good question, stop overthinking it, look for the enjoyment in the thing you're doing before the thing you have to do. Just enjoy your stretch.
I hate it when the things she doesn't say are right.
I spend approximately a third of my life, and maybe half this trip mourning the good things I haven't even lost yet.
I've loved it here. I've loved the pace. I've loved the architecture and the food and the people and the language. I've loved this place that I don't understand, and love who I am here. But I've had the glimpse of a worry that when I get home, I won't be the person I am when I'm here.
And I won't be. That's not possible and it's not the point. The bad does happen, and the good is still there. I have the choice to find it every day. I have some time left to soak it all in like my baguette soaking up Lirios' lunch, so I'm going to just turn back to my downward dog, enjoy the stretch, and when it's time, say, "Adios, muchachos."