|Living large in Vedado|
Paola had taken an instant interest in this this strange, pale creature in her midst who had a bag full of shiny jewelry, shoes and make-up but seemed unable to string together a sentence. She took pity on my odd inability to understand language and simply repeated her questions and statements over and over until I understood. Every day we would take some time to sit together on the bedroom floor, her rifling through my suitcase holding up each of my possessions asking '¿Que es eso?' until I found the name for it in my Spanish/English dictionary. She would then ask if it was mine. I'd answer 'Si' and she'd move on to the next item. What is this? It's sunscreen. Is it yours? Yes. What is this? It's a necklace. Is it yours? Yes. After each item was named she'd ponder it for awhile and then either place it on me or herself. For sharable items, lipgloss, nail polish, Canada flag stickers, we'd both get a turn, her using me as a walking, slowly-talking doll and then getting me to make her up in the same fashion.
I don't really know a lot of children and am never sure how to act around them. But with Paola I was comfortable and grateful. She was taking the time to try and understand me and to help me communicate. She was patient with me. When I couldn't get a point across she was happy to accept a goofy face or silly dance in its place. She would lead me around the apartment by hand pointing out and naming every detail. When I didn't understand, she'd start from the beginning until she saw a spark of understanding in my eyes. At meal times, she'd jump up on my lap and explain what I was eating and how I should eat it. When it was time to sleep, or to wake up, she'd appear at my side to let me know.
|¿Que es eso? ¿Que es eso? ¿Que es eso? Spanish 101 with Paola|
At night we'd walk over to La Rampa, drink a few beers and soak up the atmosphere. There was no rush to get anywhere and no rush to get home. There were just simple moments flowing together. It wasn't exciting and it didn't signify anything but for the first time in my life I didn't mind. The calm, insignificance of it all was soothing. There was no meaning to any of it, hidden or obvious, and I started to realize that I didn't need all this to mean anything. I just needed it.