The other day I was asked how long I’ve been speaking Spanish. As I thought about it, it occurred to me that I started learning Spanish 15 and a half years ago. I remember that exactly, specifically. I was a high school sophomore signed up in the only foreign language class my 1A high school offered. I didn’t know I’d be walking into a class that would change the course of my life, offer me relationships across the globe, give me opportunities I couldn’t even imagine at that point in my life. I DID know that the majority of my classes bored me to no end. I knew that this one would be a challenge; it would be new. It would be, if I am completely honest, a much needed distraction.
I had just spent the summer working full time on a peach orchard under the table. I was racking up ag hours, but I was also using my paycheck to buy groceries because my mom was sick and couldn’t work much anymore.
And again, if I’m completely honest, in those classes that couldn’t occupy my mind, I spent my time thinking about things I couldn’t fix. And dancing around a truth I couldn’t yet see. And pretending I was ok.
So when I walked into sophomore Spanish 1, I wasn’t expecting to go from learning “hola” to teaching hundreds of students at every level of Spanish K-12 and Spanish 1- AP Spanish Literature. I wasn’t expecting to have a teacher who somehow when I wrote “Yo tengo el taco” read: actually, my mom is dying and I’m not as ok as I seem, oh, and I’m going to move 1000 miles away and might need a rain jacket— but she did.
So for over half my life, I’ve been bilingual. And tomorrow marks 15 years since my mother passed away. And, if I’m honest, Spanish is part of the reason I made it this far in (mostly) one piece. And a teacher, one in a long line of teachers who made a difference along the way. That, and a rain jacket.
P.S. Here is a picture of me in said jacket, 6 years later in Costa Rica with Billy Ray Cyrus, looking like a dork because I fell backwards directly into him right was as the picture was snapped.