I started taking English classes when I was in fourth grade. My teacher was very good and I liked learning a new language because it kept my brain busy. We started with the basics like the colors and the days of the week and I kept taking English classes all throughout high school learning verbs and tense forms and little by little working on pronunciation. I never really studied hard to pass the tests and I usually helped my friends study for their tests. When I was 20 years old my mom and I decided to move to Miami and I thought all those years of studying English really helped me speak the language. Well, they did help in a way but it was really hard to express myself and to understand everyone around me. It took me a while to be able to understand the news and to be able to form coherent conversations without having to use sign language to say the word I wanted to say.
I think the revelation came the day I realized I didn’t have to translate everything in my head before saying it, but to make a switch and start thinking in English.
The most interesting part about all of this is that even though my love for words is always present and I have the ability of thinking in two different languages I never allowed myself to write out loud. I always dreamed of being a writer to be able to touch hearts the same way the books I read growing up touched mine. I always felt that I had a lot to tell and at the same time I shut myself down saying that I the word writer was too big for me, that I don’t know enough of grammar and punctuation in neither language, that I don’t have the right to write about the people I know and their experiences from my point of view. But the reality is that the words are tired of living in the solitary exile inside of my head. Spanish gives me emotions like joy, passion the intensity that comes when we are alive, the kindness of a day lived to the maximum. English gives me practical things like organization, continuity, the compromise of being honest with myself. And to be really honest, all I want to do is to write out loud; without thinking about proper grammar or punctuation. Spell check will always be there for me and my words just need to go outside, smell the fresh air and feel the sun in their corners.
So today I make a commitment to myself, to honor the words inside of me, to my Spanish feelings and my English thoughts that make me who I am. I also make the commitment to write in both languages so the people I love don’t get lost in translation and can read my heart “out loud”.