Wednesday, June 9, 2010

about when i met julius caesar

This post is about a few things. First, it's about the lamentable things happening to my Spanish (amidst the fun things happening with Romanian, of course). And second, how in the process of trying to reverse it, I met Julius Caesar.

I was walking over to my neighbor Scott's house to hang out and standing on a ladder above his door was a guy who I'd kind of talked to earlier as he'd been standing on a ladder above mine. Since we talked before I waved at him and because I did and it looked like I was walking over specifically toward him he got down and asked me what was up. Now, one thing I love about my neighborhood is that it's not all white college students, which unfortunately is a tough thing to find in this city unless you're in certain areas of downtown. As much as I love Wilmington and can imagine moving back, since I want to live somewhere with good public transit and lots of diversity it might not happen.

Anyway, my neighborhood. Which I love. Lots of opportunities to practice my Spanish. I'm usually too scared to unless it's Jaime, our Colombian friend, but in this case, the guy got down from the ladder and I could hardly understand his English and it was mixed with some Spanish anyway so before I could stop myself I said, como? Huh? And so we started talking together in Spanish and it took twice as long as it used to because I couldn't remember much of anything at first. I forgot what you say for nice to meet you (mucho gusto) because the only thing that would come to mind was îmi pare bine să te cuncosc, and I hope that's right, I haven't looked it up, but if I remember from last summer that's what I was taught to say when I met people. So. Good thing. Romanian is coming to mind. But my Spanish! It wasn't even some complicated tensed verb conjugation which would be understandable. My only option is to put in a fair amount of time practicing Spanish, and under other circumstances I'd go volunteer at a clinic or something, but the other problem is it's doing really weird things to my Romanian. And it's also possible I'll forget a ton of it anyway once I move over there and am starting to speak Romanian all the time. We'll see.

Now, in this mess of a conversation with my grammar coming out all gringo, the guy told me his name. Julio Cesar. And because I was so bewildered at having forgotten how to tell him it was nice to meet him and because it was not in English, it didn't immediately occur to me what he'd said. But I'm here to report that this Mr. Julius Caesar was in fact a pretty amiable guy, not at all what you'd think. We gave him a cup of water and he kindly returned it. He did not try to take over the our street or conquer the other streets in our neighborhood. Nor did he try to make us all speak some form of Latin or Spanish or otherwise assert his empirical power. Silly empires. He just wanted some conversation and some agua, which reminds me of another guy I know who changed the world...

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