Familiar thoughts

You know that image you have of one person? You know the feeling that you get when you hear a story and that image gets shattered? That happened to me this week.

The other day I was having a conversation with my mother. I cannot remember how or why we started talking about her side of the family but we did. As we spoke, my mother told me these stories about her mother (my grandmother), her grandmother, and her great-grandmother. Although some of the stories I had heard before, some were new. You could say that my image of these family members was changed. But what I found amusing was that the image I had of my grandmother changed.

In my mind, my grandmother had always been the same. Whenever I hear stories of other people’s grandmothers they all are sweet, “apoyadoras”, awesome cooks, and the most cuddly people out there.

Not my grandmother.

She’s the opposite of the stereotypical image of a grandmother. Con ella no se juega. Sure she has a sense of humor and is caring (in her way), but is far from the stereotypical grandma.

As my mother was telling me these stories it hit me that although my grandmother had always seemed like a tough cookie,, I remembered that she is human. Some stories I knew because my grandmother had told them to me, and others she told my mother. As I heard the stories of her youth, her adult life, motherhood, and of her life, I realized that my grandmother must have been like me at one point. She was young, she had dreams and aspirations, she had impulsive feelings, she must have felt awkward at one point, she had fights… she had had all these things and more.

I felt like I was more connected to her in those stories than in real life. Maybe now we can bond more. Who knows?

It made me wonder if these same thoughts ever came to her when she heard stories of her mother and her grandmother.

I wonder if she had these familiar thoughts.

 

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Language

I feel that language is such a complex yet utterly beautiful thing. I have told some people that if I could have one superpower it would be the ability to know all the languages and dialects. I would love to speak, read, and write in languages that I know and in those that I don’t. I find it interesting how different sounds mean certain things in one but may not mean anything in another. I spend time thinking about how languages came to form, and I try to learn as much as I can. I wonder how many people think of these things.

Throughout my years I have learned Spanish, English, French, Italian, Chinese (Mandarin), and American Sign Language. Sadly, the only ones I have fully learned are Spanish and English. I know enough Italian to survive a month in Italy and being lost in Italy. With French, I essentially forgot everything I learned. I was always too shy to talk in French and too shy to show any of my writing. The Mandarin I learned was very basic. And I’m currently trying to learn American Sign Language whenever I can.

Some time ago I had a realization.

I can’t remember what I was doing when this realization came to me. One day it hit me that even though I am fluent and native in Spanish and English, I would much rather write in English. I wondered why and I began thinking. I realized that this depends on my setting and to whom I am talking.

Still, I wondered why English comes easiest to me for some things. Part of it is because growing up I went to bilingual schools. I was born and raised in a Spanish-speaking country and the bilingual schools I went to were focused on teaching English. I was brought up with the idea to practice English whenever I could, and for the longest time, I felt that my English was better than anyone else’s in my grade.

Pretty arrogant, right?

It embarrasses me to think that I used to be that way when I was in elementary. In addition to this, as the perfectionist that I can be at times, I would only want to listen or read things in English because I wanted to be the very best. I wanted to be different from everyone else. I didn’t even start paying attention to the Spanish language until later when I moved to a different school.

For the longest time, I thought that this was my reason for preferring English over Spanish. Perhaps it is, or perhaps it is not.

It wasn’t until I left my home country that I realized that English wasn’t “easier”, it was just that Spanish held more importance to me. I have yet to find the correct words to describe this rationale but Spanish, for me, holds a lot of importance.

For me, the Spanish language represents the things I hold dear. The Spanish language encompasses things such as my feelings, my memories, my experiences, my people, my stories, and my history.

This doesn’t mean that English isn’t important to me because it really is important. Perhaps this is something that has occurred to me as I have grown older, but I feel that I appreciate the Spanish language more now than I did when I was younger.

I want to learn more about these two languages and discover what they reveal about me. Maybe I will find the answers someday.