Thursday, September 04, 2008

El lugar donde mi alma se encuentra...

A few of you have asked how the translation went on Sunday.
It went well. Quickly. But well.
Interspersed with a few out-of-body moments when I thought, "Am I really up here with a headset microphone on and a room of 2000+ people literally hanging on my every word? The vast majority of the people sitting out there have no idea what he is saying, so they need me to pay close attention and tell them... Oh crap, my mind has wandered again. Get back to it, Gail. Don't screw this up."
Thoughts like that. Again and again. For 40 minutes of translation.

Thanks for your support.
Thanks for asking.

Quite frankly, I felt a little like a rock star when it was over.
Lots of people expressed their thanks and awe and admiration.

One gentleman asked me when I learned to speak English.
It took me a second to realize what he meant.
I assured him that English is my first language.
Unconvinced, he asked where my parents were born.
I told him, "North and South Carolina."
He asked what language we spoke at home during my childhood.
I told him that I was born and raised in Brooklyn, New York, in a single-language household.
He stared at me for what felt like quite a while before his wife grabbed his elbow and ushered him away.

After it was all over and I was walking back to the minivan with Kristiana, it occurred to me that Spanish is such a part of my daily life, my thinking, the culture of my soul, that I forget that for many people learning a language in school is an endeavor that begins and ends in the classroom in which the grammatical structure is taught.

Not so for me. I began to study Spanish in the 7th grade and loved it (and our flamboyantly gay teacher!) from Day One.
I studied until I was a junior in high school. And for a year in college.
Then I went to Spain. Actually, Spain came to me, into me, attaching itself to my DNA.
The Spanish language and culture and food and art and geography and, most of all, the Spanish people,
embedded themselves into the very fabric and core of my being in the autumn of 1986 and will never be extricated.
On the morning when I awoke and realized I had dreamt in Spanish, I knew I would never be the same.

Spain, especially Madrid, is where my soul finds rest, inhaling and exhaling deeply. It is the place on earth where I am happiest.

(This Instituto Internacional is the place where I studied back in 1986. The sign says "Courses in English" to encourage Spaniards to take enroll in English classes there as well, thereby provided natural opportunities for language exchanges and cross-cultural interaction.)

What a blur these past 22 years have been.
More than half my life.
Far more than half my soul.

These four photos were taken in and around my beloved Madrid in December of 2007.
How could I not fall in love with a city that looks like this during the winter???

PS. The title in translation: The place where my soul finds itself...


Lisa said...

*Love* that title! Will adopt that as one of my mantras (and filters) for these rich but trying days. Perhaps I'll even find the French translation...and maybe others, too!

Thank you for sharing this incredible part of your life with us. Just another one of the aspects that makes you an amazing person whom we are so blessed to know.

And your truths leave me to ponder...where is my soul most at home? Where am I the happiest? Hmmmmm....I'm not sure. Food for thought, indeed.

Smell Goods Lady said...

So cool! Go rock star!

Amy said...

I am always amazed at translators. How do you think that quickly? That takes God-given talent. The pictures of Madrid are lovely! I envy your bilingual abilities. One is never too old too learn, so maybe I should reacquaint myself with espanol. I worked with migrant farm workers several years ago, and I attempted to use what little Spanish I recalled. We somehow communicated.

You are an inspiration, Gail! Thank you for using your God-given gift to further His work in this world!

Lori said...

Hey Gail, I think you missed your calling, "rock star". Remind me to tell you a story of an experience I had with a translater.

Madrid for you is like Italy for me. Except I don't speak Italian yet but I will.

Your writing is awesome.

Thanks for sharing.

Ella said...

I just enjoy your blog and the variety of thoughts you put out there. Diverse and thought provoking.