2 nights ago i dreamt that i was standing in the midst of a tempest~ swirling about my calm center were pieces of paper with italian words written on them. no matter how hard i tried, i could not take ahold of a single one. my frustrations grew, & then, as often happens in sleep, i drifted to another place, unrelated. but when morning came, the vividness of that vocabulary/grammar dream that haunted me.normally, the study of anything has come easily to me throughout my entire life, including 4 years of spanish in high school & the study of latin on my own in adulthood. my momma told me that i used to sleepwalk, coming to her in the middle of the night & speaking to her in rapid-fire spanish (she couldn't say if my grammar was on, but she could identify the words). maybe the ease was helped by the fact that 5 days a week we were immersed in a classroom with an excellent teacher who allowed not a word of english from day one, nor would she communicate with me outside the classroom in english. it really was sink or swim with her!
whatever it was, it is embedded in my brain to such a degree that while traveling in italy i have been asked on multiple occasions if i am spanish...not american, spanish! go figure! last summer my instructor was forever correcting little spanish errors too (porque vs. perche...a never ending pronunciation battle for 2 weeks). my time in roma with her was a precious gift to me. & it was also an experience that gave me clarity of things beyond my basic grammar skills...i began to understand a frustration that i did not remember from previous language study.
of course i could recall technical things & use my resources to convey needs & hold a simple conversation, but i could not convey emotions beyond very simple things...i could not state my feelings...i could not express myself in a deeper way. i found that, for the first time in my life, i preferred to be silent. (those of you who know me in the real world, please do not laugh ;-)...for i know you believe that to be impossible!) & now i realize that in the beauty of that silence some deeper learning was taking place.
i was starting to grasp some nuances of this language that captivates me...i could hear the stressed syllables of words that had eluded me...i could hear word order in sentences. i also learned how humbling it can be to be 2 steps behind a speaker's words...to lose an important concept because i was translating 3 sentences behind what had just been said.
yesterday my oldest son noticed my exasperation & asked me about it...i told him that for the umpteenth time that day i had hit a wall in my understanding of italian. (verb tenses & prepositions have become the bane of my existence.)he wondered aloud why i would even attempt this. hmmmm...i love language. italian is incredibly beautiful...i never tire of hearing it spoken. i have been lulled to sleep by its lyrical enchantment. i cannot explain why it draws me to itself. really, i don't care...it is part of my path. & in talking with my son i realized that the challenge of this language for me personally is like a breath of the crisp fall air which surrounded me this morning. it invigorates my senses & the reward of returning to italy with a bit more skill in italian far outweighs my frustrations with expression...quite the opposite~~ it fuels me to apply myself even more. (this one's for you
Baby Girl, my language-immersed child...a little bit of home)...