Sunday, June 16, 2013

Mid-Language Blues

I am halfway through a thirty-week course in Tamil. As I recall from my Portuguese class, the hardest weeks are still to come. The last few drag on forever, but in the middle, you hit a point at which you can no longer use the excuse that you are a beginner to explain your mistakes, and yet have not had enough time to master anything expect the most rudimentary of pleasantries. And yet, I feel, unlike with Portuguese, Tamil is a language I will never really know. This fact, in and of itself, is intimidating. At this point in Portuguese, I was two-thirds to three-quarters of the way through class. I was basically just amassing vocab, having been taught most of the grammar I would receive, and could even follow along well enough in class to space out. No such luck in Tamil.

Moreover, I feel as though this point also marks what would be approximately the halfway point of our time in the States. I feel like a sailing ship that has hit a dead patch of ocean. There is no wind to fill my sails, and the promise of a breath of it is still several weeks away. Though the monsoon has come to India, we will soon enter the hottest days in DC, when most politicians will flee to their summer homes in Aspen, the Catskills, and the Hamptons, while I slog through the past positive verbal adjective, the associative suffix, and morphophonemic endings.

We can no longer say we just came from Brazil or are about to leave for India. Not that we are solely defined by our movements, but we are just here. Dr. Seuss would call it a 'waiting place', but with three children under five who do not have the patience to wait 5 seconds for you to fetch a spoon from the silverware drawer we do not have the luxury of waiting.

Last week, we spent the week talking about accidents and natural disasters, namely the 2004 Boxing Day tsunami that struck India and Sri Lanka. I knew on last Monday it would be a long week, I just didn't realize at the time how long. After days spent watching videos of the tsunami on YouTube, I'd had my fill of watching buses wash away and people clutch to the trunks of coconut trees. I couldn't wait to come home to a form of chaos with which I was more familiar.

Our weekends have been good. Very good. Too good, and now I sit here on a Sunday afternoon, dreading having to speak Tamil all day tomorrow. I should just drop into a Portuguese class to lift my spirits, to remind myself that I am capable of learning another language.

And yet I don't want to wish this time away. The Fourth of July, two weeks away, unofficially marks the halfway point of summer. A few days after that, Elise will take the kids to Spokane for two weeks, and as exhausting as the last two days of single parenting have been, I am not looking forward to seeing them go. Though it doesn't feel like it, time passes, and with each passing day, we get just a little bit closer to leaving for India. It is still a long time off, but I think after having experienced four seasons in Northern Virginia we will be ready to go.

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