After a beautiful two-year relationship with Colombia and one year with a certain remarkable Colombian, I have now left both. Life can change so rapidly, and mine is no exception. Leaving a place and person that I loved was so difficult . . . is so difficult. Although I had to do so, both are losses that afflict me deeply, losses that bring much grief. Bueno. Now you know.
Although the temptation is to curl up in a ball forever and lick my wounds in a cave somewhere, listening to Silvio Rodríguez all day long, I desire serenity. It would be easy to simply throw in the towel with this blog, seeing as most of its original premises no longer stand– I no longer live in Colombia, I am no longer surrounded by Colombian Spanish and thus can’t lay claim to any kind of “in the streets” stamp of authenticity, and I no longer have that “endlessly patient and self-sacrificing” Colombian boyfriend to answer all my questions and double-check my assertions here. At this point, anything I share about Colombia will be drawn from remembrances. As for what I learn in the future, God only knows where it might come from. Will anyone still care?
Amid thoughts of the relationship, I’ve also thought a lot about my relationship with Colombian Spanish. And, people, all I can say is that I adore Colombian Spanish. I always will. This is the Spanish I imbibed during my long Spanish infancy, the Spanish I nursed on, later cut my teeth on, scraped my knees with, and was shaped and formed by. I hope I never lose my strong Colombian accent. I was so content to have been able to move on from “universal,” textbook Spanish to a regional variant, proudly hanging my hat there to appropriate its sparklingly alive words and phrases and then have them effortlessly flow out of me. It was so relevant and befitting to learn Colombian Spanish because it was what I was immersed in. I lived in Colombia. I loved in Colombia. I spoke with Colombians every day. What did I care about slang in Guatemala, Mexico, Spain, Argentina, or any other place? I gladly relinquished all of it. It was so wonderful to dedicate myself to this one thing, to box myself in and have focus. And now that box is gone, and I’m cast at sea again. Here in the US, I’ll be surrounded by Mexican Spanish, Central American Spanish, all the other Spanishes, and, yes, Spanglish. It would be silly for me to use the more colorful phrases and words I subsisted on in Colombia. It’s time for me to open my mind a little, open my heart, and let go of my favoritism. I need to become a Jill of all Spanishes, probably a master of none. And . . . big sigh . . . that’s okay.
I have no idea what this will look like, but I will continue to share as I learn. In case you envied me before and thought oh, well sure it’s easy to become fluent in Spanish when you live in a Spanish-speaking country, but not everyone has that luxury, harumph… Well, now we’re on a level playing field. I absolutely had an advantage, no doubt about it. I was learning Spanish like crazy, and it wasn’t easy. And now we’ll see just how well I keep it up stateside and single.
This blog is actually an incredible source of happiness for me. I derive a great deal of satisfaction talking about Spanish, talking in Spanish, sharing what I’ve learned, helping others, showing off a little bit (I admit it), and hearing back from readers. I’m inordinately enamored with Spanish–¿no se me nota? And, thus, to keep myself positive in the next few challenging months, I hope to not fall into a slump but rather kick into overdrive, flourishing with ideas and motivation.
I will still listen to Silvio all day long, though.