First impressions can be deceiving

16 September 2005
5:12 PM

Yesterday was something of a rollercoaster. If I was writing this yesterday afternoon, I would write about what a sad and difficult day it had been. But instead I’ll start with the ending and say that the day turned out pretty good.

My day started with a seeming innocuous homework assignment. I had to write some questions, use them to interview someone in Spanish, and write a short article about it. I decided to interview my host mom Juana. My questions were mostly benign, and somewhat hackneyed: Where were you born? What do you like to do in your free time? and so forth. You can imagine my surprise when I asked, “What is your favorite memory,” and she replied (in Spanish), “when my son was still alive.”

In retrospect I remember Juana saying something about her other son earlier, but my Spanish oral comprehension is mediocre and I didn’t really understand. In any event, she told me that her son died in a car accident at age twelve. That happened five years ago this September 24. We talked for a long while. It would be inappropriate for me to share details told to me in confidence, so I’ll leave the story at that. I did, however, ask Juana’s permission to mention this.

The morning left me feeling pretty down for reasons that should be sufficiently obvious. Classes were long and tough.

Emily, Roy, Caitlin, and I went downtown to walk around and get ice cream after class. Having community time together is an explicit part of Holy Cross Associates and it was particularly helpful yesterday. It’s nice to have people to talk with about life here (especially in English). By the time we took a taxi home, I was feeling a little better.

(left to right) Carlos, Sharyel, Andrea and doll, Mery, and Justina

Almost immediately after I got home, Juana, Nestor, and I left to visit Nestor’s sister and her family. We arrived at 7:15pm; we left to return home at 12:30am (keep in mind that I have been going to bed around 10:00pm). We talked almost the whole time. They showed me hundreds of pictures of their family in the U.S. Ironically, I had been to almost every place pictured in the photos: New York, Washington, D.C., SeaWorld, Disney World. I played Jenga with Mery’s little girls (Sharyel, age 3, and Andrea, age 7). We talked about the differences between English and Spanish (and being the only “expert” on English present, it involved a lot of talking on my part). Nestor and Juana’s extended family was very welcoming. Carlos, Mery’s husband, gave us a ride home, and I finally put myself to sleep at 1:00am. It was a nice ending to a day that had been a little difficult.