Thursday 28 April 2011

Perfect words

In a relationship of different nationalities, cultures, education, history and language, the most and least reconcilable I have found is the latter: the words. It is also the most frustrating, interesting, hilarious and surprising of our differences.

Words are the heart and soul of a language and those that use them. I didn't realise the richness of it and how much our identity is bound in our native language until my boyfriend didn't understand that I don't 'give two hoots' or I didn't get what 'living inside a ravioli' implied. Looks, gestures and our body language truly compliment our speech, but the words we actually say and write are the main course, with lashings of meaning on the plate: intrinsic, implied, embedded.

It is obviously a continuous journey. Not only are there words to play with, but new sounds, intonation and rules. One thing that has become clear on this journey, and that both of us have learnt, is that there are words which just stay in one language. This may because they are difficult in the other, not easy to remember or we just like them. For example, the words mattress, drawer, cloth and thermos flask are always spoken in this house in Spanish. These words, in our world, have transcended all barriers: "Pass me the trapo to wipe the table"; "Your money's in your cajón." I can never remember the word for budget in Spanish, so it will always be: "El lugar depende de su budget."

Then there are the words which remain, but for different reasons than the above. These are the perfect words; words which have such a wonderfully exact meaning in their usage that there is, literally, no other word or translation for. Words like ponce and pikey in English, or quilombero in Argentine Spanish: you simply have to use them, there is no other word.

This discovering and use of our two languages means that my boyfriend and I have developed our own lengua. It's going to be interesting when we have children and they grow up speaking both languages far better then either of us. While, as parents, we will no doubt be jealous, I smile with glee when I think about the day my son or daughter comes home from school: "Mum, the teacher told me that globo isn't a word. What lengua have you been teaching me? I thought you said I spoke perfecto."

And though others may not know it, perfecto is exactly what they will speak.

Monday 25 April 2011

Sunday papers

On Saturday, it was my boyfriend's 30th birthday. We had a picnic in the park, which turned into a settle down in the pub once the (tropical) storms came late afternoon. Pimms, wine and dinner was followed by cake and champagne back home and a couple of gins to round off the (day and) night.

Needless to say, I woke up yesterday feeling dry and crusty. How alcohol drains the body of such moisture is incredible. Litres of water later, we headed out with leftover picnic (for there is so much food) to another park to lay in the sun and enjoy another sunny blue day with nothing to do. On the way, we bought the Sunday papers and this, and only this, was my mission.

It's very rare that I actually get to read the Sunday papers on a Sunday, though yesterday I truly relished it. And I realised what you need to do to be able to finish them: either be my dad who is a professional paper/supplement/magazine reader; or get of your house and lay in a park so there is nothing else to do instead.

When we're at home on the weekends, I enjoy buying them and thinking 'Ah, some couch time with the Sundays'. Inevitably, I end up half way through the magazine before I get involved in soup/roast making, clothes sorting, writing, washing or exercising of some kind. IT'S A SUNDAY!

And yesterday I also realised why the Sundays are called the Sundays. It's got nothing to do with the day and everything to do with the Sunday sensation. It's the day before going back to work with its intellectual and physical grind so the contents are built around the weekend mentality: it's gentle, interesting and a diversion from the usual business of news.

Yesterday I lapped it up, breaking only for a kip under the tree. Now, I am asking myself how I will manage this in the Sundays to come, knowing now what I do. Well, next Sunday I am at my parents' house. That's easy, I'll just do what my dad does. Job done.

And after that? Well, I need to escape my house, so I am going to need a whole lot of sun.

Friday 22 April 2011

Precious moments

Last weekend, I went to Buenos Aires: three nights and three-and-a-half days of talking, eating, drinking, laughing, sweating, dancing, shopping. Not too much sleeping. "Time was precious".

I managed to do a twenty-four-hour talkathon, spa-athon and drink-athon with a wonderful friend there. It's quite incredible when you grasp the time you have, yank it towards you and run with it until you can run no more. It's amazing what you can pack into a day when you know what little time there really is.

And something I realised when there was how well distribution of time can be spent. Two minutes with the man who used to sell me my paper every day was fabulously sufficient; five hours with my in-laws, eating and talking; ten minutes with my shoe-shine friend who worked on my street. All was enough.

People spend far too much time, time they don't have, on the people they don't really want to focus on. Through family, society, customs, we are often railroaded into spending our time with distant relatives, obnoxious colleagues, boring friends of friends. Really, it's not the time that becomes precious, but the people you spend it with. They should be the precious ones who make you feel fantastic, happy, understood.

It then doesn't matter how many seconds, hours and days you have to spare; if it's with the right people, the moments last a life time: every time you close your eyes, you are there.

Sunday 10 April 2011

The Lonely Fish

Today, I am supposed to be running a marathon. But it's not going to happen. Eight weeks ago, I stopped running becuase I have a fracture in my bone. Probably best. Wouldn't want it to snap on mile 22.

Not to be defeated and to still keep my promise to the MS Trust for who I was running, I decided to swim a marathon instead.

If I could be any animal in the world, it would be a shark. I love water. Just looking at, listening to, thinking about it creates a tranquility that thinking about trees/mountains/the tube doesn't do for me. I love water that looks like blue glass and I love water that is tormented and wild. When I lived next to the sea, just stepping out of the front door, no matter the temperature or colour, and just seeing the sea brought a spring to my step. When I lived near Iguazu Falls, the immense cascades which divide Brazil and Argentina, I would spend Sunday afternoons laying in the sun listening to that incredbile power and following single droplets as they took the plunge.

So, a swim made sense. I've always been a decent swimmer and I can get in the pool and swim for a mile without any problems. But, as I was in the pool earlier this week, I realised what this new challenge meant. I am going to swim 26 miles in 26 days. Almost 4 weeks of my life will be dedicated to the pool. I have to swim 1677 lengths. And the thing I realised most is that it would all be done alone.

Running is a relatively lonely sport. But you can also choose to run with others, and chat along the way to make the time go faster and burn more calories. You can listen to music and have Paula Radcliff telling you what a good job you're doing. What I've discovered about swimming is that it is even more isolating. Swimming cap on, goggles on and it's you and the water, nothing more. Whilst when running I might have Helen Reddy or the Red Hot Chilli Peppers pumping me up, the pool gives me nothing more than the swish and swash of my own strokes.

One good thing is that I think a lot about my stroke; doing it right, being effective. When I am tired I like to think I am a shark, gliding through the blueness effortlessly and it makes me pull my elbows out properly or breathe deeper. It's that and counting. There's no one to greet on the way round; no one whose bright pink head band you can laugh at inside; no one to emulate or beat.

I think it's going to be an interesting 26 days (due to take place in May) and I am looking forward to it. Running has always cleared my head and I believe that all this time in the pool will have the same effect.

And at least there is the sauna, steam room and jacuzzi for the lonely fish to relax in afterwards.