we are trading questions around the room. this is the exchange part of the class. i get the same question over and over, “why do you want to learn spanish?”

i fumble over the words, can’t say them all in spanish yet. it’s a long story, and i am trying to be pithy. “to communicate…con mi familia. mi padre familia…en mexico.”

the person i am speaking to is an english speaker. she is learning spanish so that she can move to mexico. for a long time, she says. her brow wrinkles and she starts speaking english. “your family is there…but you’re here?”

yes, no, yes. my family is there, but my family is also here. my family is also over there. and over there. and over there. the people i am descended from, the people i call family. there are several subsets, and they are all mixed.

earlier in the evening we take a test to see what level we are at, if we’re in the right class. i get all of the noun particles right (except the exceptions: el sofa, los problemas), but i can’t conjugate a verb for shit. i’ll get there.

tonight i recite the alphabet anew. shape the puzzle pieces that someday will become words.


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