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« transmitting hope(part four; el fin) | Main | Transmitting Hope (part two) »

transmitting hope (part three)

I’m not a small talker. I discover this by listening to other people conversing about best selling books. Children’s shenanigans. The dropping temperature. Uncontroversial subjects. A perfectly fine form of social bonding.  Which I'm not good at. Flirting with reality's surface. I want to excavate emotions. Get out of artifice. Into the root. Figure out what makes us do what we do. I'm thinking. That first Monday. 7 AM. As Miranda smears jelly on a dry slice of white bread. Hands it to me. Saying, “Tengo nauseas. No como nada.” I’m nauseous. I eat nothing.

My sentiments. Exactly. I stopped eating her offering in elementary school. But I’m starving. I take a bite. And wanting to dialogue. Come up with a response.  “Como esta el clima?” How’s the weather? Totally off-topic. But health. I refuse to discuss. Each of us has a complaint. And what do you know. Miranda complies. "Hoy debes llevar un sueter.” Today you must wear a sweater. Thus encouraged. I instruct her how to improve her relationship with her two adult-daughters.         

Make them grow. You're infantalizing them. Cut the financial support. Stop cleaning after them. You, a dish-rag. They, students. Year after year. Getting one degree. Then another. Never trying to find work. Stop this behavior. At the risk of a breakdown. At least. You'll get in touch with yourself.            

Inside my mind. I lay it all out. Then watch how it goes down. Very badly. It's in fact,  none of my business. Even if I could say it in Spanish. I need only to devote myself to my affairs. Breakfast. For one. From now on. I’m buying. Goat cheese. Wheat bread. Eggs. Teaching Miranda how to soft boil one. Since I’ve no kitchen privileges. I do have, however, my own key.

Getting my notebook and pens. Going out the door. To school. in a reverie. At 7:30 in the morning. Floating through air. On my own accord, mixed with instinct. Then getting lost.  Yet yesterday’s dry-run was a snap. I got to the school's front door. Today. Incompetency.

I stop a young man in black pants. White long-sleeve shirt. Black bow tie. Setting up chairs on the Plaza Mayor. A waiter. In front of the restaurant where he works. “Donde esta Calle Placentinos.” I ask. Where is Placentino Street? He says, “Soy nuevo aqui. Perdido. Tambien. Deseo ayudarte.” I'm new here. Lost. Also. I wish to help you. Staring at him. He confirming. Many of us do want to assist. Some of us when not asked.  

He opens his phone. Finds a map. Shows me. By 8 AM, I’m with 20 other Golden Years participants. Taking a test. Determining our Spanish capability. Since I know present tense. I’m nivel dos. Level Two.  There are three in total. Next, our two classes.  

The first one, from 9 AM to 10:50 AM. Seven show. The second. From 11:10AM to 1PM. Another person appears. Making it eight. A transfer from nivel uno. Mimi, 76.  Has studied Spanish. And signed- up for this group. All along. Why the mix-up? She’s small. Delicate. Tentative in speech.  A retired psychologist. From England. A recent widow. With a free form tattoo. One each thumb. Saying her grandchildren made her do it. It's emblematic of the story of her life. Yet all I decipher, is what she tells me.  She’s born out of wedlock. To a mother whose last name is Marx. Iinitially, therefore, finding my nomenclature fascinating.    

The next morning. We get another addition. Upping it to nine. Michaela, 57, from Germany. Knows a little Spanish. Had registered to be with us. Too. She's big boned.  Robust. With a a wheeze. I’m thinking she has allergies. Teacher of tailoring, design and color’s importance in fashion. At a professional school. Married to a carpenter. She in her domicile. He in his. Sharing one roof on the weekends.

In the afternoon, she approaches. Feeling a kindred spirit. Due to my attire.  She's worried. Will any of us report. Nine are in the program. Presently. The catalogue states eight’s the limit.  She likes being here. Does not want to go back. I say "I doubt it." What do I know? But I want her to relax. She's nice. And I'm aware of the person responsible for the excess. A 42-year-old English woman. With a huge diamond ring. Named Jessica. The second spouse to that 60-year-old multi-millionaire English guy. Named Simon. Who a decade ago, sells his Manchester travel agency. For a fortune. Retires. Divorces his first wife. Marries this one. In a big wedding.  Thereafter, she has no need to be a lawyer. Her profession. For together they sail twice around the world. On his  yacht. He bending my ear. Revealing all this. Wanting to know, by way of conclusion, why New York’s sea security is lax. Compared to Bar Harbor, Maine. Where they're searched.

I've got no answer. And if the world be flat. This entire chat would not have occurred. Those two would have fallen off in their first voyage. Yet.  I've a suggestion Where they must disembark. The Polar Ice Cap. Between the two of them, the wife especially, there's enough frost to add acreage to the polar bear habitat.  

Then I turn to Sylvia. 58. From Germany. A secretary. Aloof. Or shy. She's, for sure, taciturn. Meeting Michaela. For the first time. Saying nothing. Just nodding. Yet they speak the same language. While Alana, 59. A Vietnamese woman. Raised in Cambodia. Married to a Swiss. Living in Switzerand. Greets everyone with vibrancy and a wave. While adjusting her silk fuchsia neck scarf. 

Then Hannu, 73, from Finland. A retired engineer. Looks intently at anyone speaking. Revealing the twinkle in his eyes. And long nose hairs protruding from each nostril. Annoying. Why doesn't his wife, in nivel tres. Trim them? 

Bringing me lastly, to a 68 year old plump Indonesian woman. Who resides in the Netherlands. Sweating profusely. Water pouring from her hair line. Onto her back. Spotting her clothing. She, trying to sop it up, with one tissue. After another. Meanwhile, the weather's balmy. Something's wrong. I'll offer an unsolicited opinion. Her face kind. "Baby wipes would absorb better. Have you tried? I’ll bring some tomorrow.” 

Showing no offense. She thanks me. Is she lying? Or appreciative? I wouldn’t guess. But what bothers me. How do I categorize my remarks?  Small talk? Something substantive?

I'm the limner. On a learning curve. Needing to know. Where to draw the line.    


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Reader Comments (12)

Love your amazing stories!!!!!!
I became a GREAT GRANDMOTHER in 2017 so I don't know if 2018 can match that!!
My wishes for you dear Jane ... is that all your fondest dreams and higher aspirations be realized in 2018!!

December 30, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterRuth

You have made each person come alive; I see them, hear them and feel as if I know each one. It's never small talk when you are around. That's the gift you give each of us.

December 30, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterAnita Lippman

I, too, am enjoying your posts. My best wishes for 2018 (what?).

December 30, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterMary Haggart Cooke

I can picture each person....but can not quite convince myself where they are.....in the classroom or in my mind. Will be in NYC 1st part of March. Lois

December 30, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterLois

You are learning more than Spanish ! I can picture you there.
All the best in the New Year !

December 31, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterJoe

typed as words, read as a movie..

What a talent you have Jane, Happy New Year from "DownUnder"

January 1, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterIvan

Loved it, the best. Cant wait for part 4.

January 2, 2018 | Unregistered Commenterjudyl

Your amazing stories are breath taking. Your stories are always filled with so much warmth. You are so talented.

January 2, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterHalbert Hollingsworth

Your amazing stories are breath taking. Your stories are always filled with so much warmth. You are so talented.

January 2, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterHalbert Hollingsworth

This is my favorite... You have brought everyone to life with characters we can almost touch. I have a picture of your face in my minds eye when I've witnessed you attempting a side step dodge from Small Talk!
But of Spain...Danos más por favor!! Loving it xx

January 5, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterFizulu

I will wonder now about anyone who sits by me.😥

January 6, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterLois

Jane, I am very interested in how you got to Spain with an educational group. Coincidentally, I was also in Spain - possibly at the exact same time you were. But I was just touring. I would really like to learn more about an educational trip. Will you please point me in the right direction? Thank you. Mary Hodges.
PS - We are coming to NYC May 19. Can we meet for lunch before our theater date?

March 20, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterMary Hodges

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