A couple of weeks ago I was craving the special beans from the tienda by my old place, so we made a trip to our old neighborhood. I noticed they also have the cheese I like, the pale yellow kind that melts the best and makes the best quesadillas. So I asked for the cheese I wanted, pointing to it as I was saying it, but was at a loss for the word “shredded”. (rallado)
The customer at the front of the line, with a sneer, asked me why I didn’t speak Spanish. I told him, in Spanish, that I’ve lived here for 2 years and I’m learning. My work is in English, I’m a writer in English, and a lot of my friends are English speakers so I don’t practice as much as I should. Lo siento. Pendejo.
I left that exchange feeling terrible about myself. The whole afternoon was one big bummer. I even took a nap. In the middle of work.
Today I went to get special x-rays of my teeth, and the office is a little hard to find so she met my cab and walked me in. She doesn’t speak any English and when I realized this I became a little nervous because I really don’t wish to have medical conversations where I am by no stretch of the imagination fluent in the language we are speaking.
But we communicated perfectly fine actually, and she complimented me on my pronunciation. I told her I’d been learning for a couple of years and sometimes it’s hard. She squeezed my arm and told me I’m doing great.
And I felt great toooooo! If x-rays can smile, I am confident that we’ll find mine grinning from earhole to earhole.
But as I was holding very, very still for my x-rays, it occurred to me that I’ve let both people sway my mood. I’m letting their opinions bring me up or down, when their opinions are of literally no consequence at all.
There’s a parable about a farmer who goes through a series of events, each of which could easily be described as “good” or “bad”, but in the end they even out. Because the point is that it’s not good or bad, it’s just happening. The universe is just doing its thing. Your strength is in your reaction.
So I guess the moral of this story, something like the farmer story, is don’t let people tell you you’re good or bad. You just be what you be. You’re already good enough.
I’m going to be over here continuing to birth this new soul I’ve been working on.
❝To have another language is to possess a second soul.❞
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