foreign languages

 I often get annoyed with myself that I never learned a foreign language.  Sure, I took Spanish in school, but at the time didn’t really care, or fully understand how it could truly change my brain for the better, as countless studies indicate, forever…so here I am, a monolingual.  When my first grandchild was born I told her father that he should only speak to her in Spanish, that my daughter should only speak to her in English, and she would have a benefit of better-stronger-faster gray matter from the get-go…needless to say they did not heed my advice nor follow my suggestion in any manner, but I digress.  3 years 3 months and 3 days ago I met a boy…well a man with beautifully boyish features, and the first time he smiled at me, without a single word, I heard and understood so much, and felt profoundly confident that he spoke my same language.  I am thinking today about the universal language of happiness, joy, elation…really any descriptor will do, and how a facial expression has no borders, no barriers to communication, no pretense…it says everything while saying nothing at all…

“If you smile at me I will understand, ‘Cause that is something everybody everywhere does in the same language”  is a line from a song by Crosby Stills Nash and Young and as so many great song lyrics are, it’s a truth as pure as a day is long, acknowledged by everyone as real and honest.  The first time this person smiled at me I “read” that he was so ready to have someone smile back…which I know might sound ridiculously corny and rather juvenile, but it’s true…his smile said his parents were long ago dead, he was going through a break up and a divorce and had recently lost his job and was clawing his way out of a confused time, with a loss of friends from a move across the country, giving up all he had worked so hard for and pretty much everything he had for the love of a woman who turned out to be a bad choice as a wife…his smile “read” mine which said I had a perfect childhood and nearly perfect parents who love me unconditionally and now in mid-life I get to live right next door to my daughter and her daughters, and I work really hard and have tried my whole life to do right, and to be good, and think myself to be so very kind, and why can’t I just find a person who makes me feel like I have finally found somebody who fits me?   I felt like the moment our eyes met, and that very first smile we shared was a level of communication I had never before experienced,  and perhaps never will again.

To be clear, it has not been all rainbows and butterflies…it’s been positively dreadful a couple of times and a few times we’ve considered throwing in the towel because face it, it’s not easy to fall in love with somebody when one of you is down and out and the other is beautifully broken… it’s SO MUCH easier being in a relationship when things are going swimmingly for all parties involved, but guess what I’ve learned?  If it’s all perfect all the time and there are no difficulties,  when the rug gets pulled out from under you, it’s a lot harder to keep your balance.  When you start out in difficult circumstances, or during a trying time, or at “rock bottom” so to speak, for one, or both of you, the only way to go is up!!!

I’ve known people who, on the surface, seem to have everything and life for them looks great on the outside…but it’s all just on the outside, it’s all just keeping up appearances…some of the most miserable people I have ever met are ones who behave and act like they’ve got it going in the right direction.  I’ve learned that kindness and joy are languages which not everybody speaks, and many people never learn the nuances and the tones and the timbres of voice, that allow them to become fluent, and encourage them to find others of their kind…do you speak my language?  is a question I think more couples ought to ask each other…I know some couples who, when you see them smile at each other you can practically hear the angels singing!!!  That’s a language we ALL could learn to master if we only tried…

This man I share my life with, with the beautifully boyish face, speaks my same language in silence but also deeply understands my need for words; for effective and open communication, for honest and heartfelt apology when one of us has done wrong, and genuine gratitude for all that is good when it is good.  He knows that I crave words and love how they string together in a dance, and he knows I believe this is a language which connects us all…we talk a lot,  about a lot of things…we disagree mightily on a few issues, and are in strong solidarity on most others.  He too often tells me to “relax” which makes me want to punch him in the face, and I too often correct his grammar which causes him to shoot me the eye of death…but then comes the smile, always the smile, the language we all speak fluently but so many of us forget its value…but in this house, this space where I try very hard to maintain peace and positivity, the smile packs a punch…through the thick and thin of these 3 years, 3 months, and 3 days there have been infinitely more smiles than frowns, much more laughter and light than raised voices and dark thoughts, open communication and freedom of expression, instead of dwelling angst-ridden silences…In this house  the language of kindness is the primary one spoken, and when we fail, or forget, we apologize, and we mean it…we smile, we forgive, and we remember all the words that were not spoken the first time we smiled together…

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