Refresher Note: I moved in January 2013 to manfriend’s town, almost two hours from my hometown in the coast to the rural parts of Puerto Rico.
Moving here has been like moving to another island.
I’ve mentioned the traffic, which I’m sure I’m not ever going to get over. Twenty years can go by and I’ll still get high blood pressure episodes when I have to drive in this town. The food is different, or people eat it differently. The ever changing weather is torturous for someone that comes from a place where there’s one temperature (warm). Here I have to strategize how to dress baby J because it can be freezing cold in the morning, horribly humid at midday and then hot but breezy in the afternoon.
The other day though I noticed, well, I had noticed before, I just hadn’t internalise the situation, that the difference in the use of language has been truly affecting me.
I’ve always loved language, words. When I was a little girl one of the things I wanted to be when I grew up was well spoken. I wanted to know enough words and have enough knowledge about how to use them to be able to speak my thoughts in the most clear and correct way possible. I’m also a nerd, I know.
So coming here and realising that practically nobody understands me has been… painful, honestly. Frustrating to my core. A nightmare.
I can write a thousand examples of moments when I’ve been terribly misunderstood for using specific sayings (or even words because it turns out half my vocabulary means something else here) but that could (potentially) happen in other towns (although it has never been as horrible as here, where I’ve said something and people have literally understood the complete opposite of what I’m saying) so I’m going to use a more general example, using a hypothetical situation to make my point.
If I was back home (back in the coast. Viva the shore) and say, my mom came home and left a shopping bag on the dinner table and I needed to use it this is pretty much how it would go:
me: mom, can I use this (holding the bag)?
End of conversation. We both keep doing whatever we were doing and we are fine and happy with each other and the world. Yay.
If manfriend (or anyone from his family) left the shopping bag in the dinner table and I needed to use it this is what would happen instead:
me: manfriend, can I use this shopping bag that you left on the table this morning for the trash can? (I would need to explain which bag I’m talking about and what I’m using it for because otherwise he would just keep asking me until finding that information, so basically, shortcut.)
manfriend: oh, that’s the bag that the grocery guy gave me at the supermarket when I went to deliver the products today. That’s when I talked to the owner, remember I told you? And he said he loved the last batch we delivered. The grocery guy asked for that shopping bag and blah blah blah blah…
Seven minutes go by and when he finishes talking:
me: but, can I use it?
manfriend: oh, yeah, of course baby.
People love to talk here. They just love to hear themselves talking and the simplest exchange takes at least five minutes because they don’t want it to end. Otherwise you are being rude and cutting and maybe down right offensive. I can not tell you the amount of times an in law has drilled me with questions when I’ve unconsciously given my usual yes or no answers, the expectation is to hear in detail about everything.
I’m not used to explaining myself because I, in particular, am not someone who has practiced being that communicative about my things, not to mention I didn’t even shared my space with other people in a daily basis (my schedule was different from my parents’ so I rarely saw them during the week). So when someone here asks me where I’m going, and why, and with whom, my first reaction is to go blank. What? What’s happening? Did I do something wrong? It takes my brain a while to process that it’s nothing, I just moved.
To the freaking middle of the island and the hardcore country life.