Have you ever flown “stand-by?” Well neither have I, but I’m trying to plan a trip to Europe this summer with the intentions of flying stand-by and boy is it…hmm whats the right word….phrase maybe….oh! I know like you’re in limbo. There are so many uncertainties, unpredictable events depending on where we land. Did I mention we are willing to take ANY non-stop flight? Well, as I began to try and think about what our 3-week adventure through Europe might look like I started to feel insecure about the trip and really simply not knowing how to negotiate costs. I felt a sort of uneasiness and you know what thats when it hit me! As a “native US bilingual” individual I have felt like I have been flying standby all my life between Spanish and English!!!
I can remember as a child being stunned after watching my abuelita smoke a cigerratte AND in our own house! My parents never allowed anyone to smoke in our house and there she was smoking a cigarette with a beer in the other hand. As I stood there in disbelief the words couldn’t come out of my mouth fast enough. I wasn’t sure how to say “to smoke,” but I worked around it by shouting, “Abuelita, tu smokas!!” Y en ese momento nadie pudo aguantar las carcajadas/And at that moment no one could hold back their laughter. I was utterly embarressed I chose the wrong word….sort of, right.
So, as I was saying all my life I have felt as if I were flying standby between English and Spanish. There were always so many uncertainties like am I making up a word or should I say the adjective first in a sentence and then the noun? There were also so many unpredictable events especially when my parents Spanish-speaking friends would come over. I would always think, “Oh great! Not only am I going to have to kiss their cheek (and ALL of them), but Im also going to have to use Spanish.” Believe it or not it wasn’t until I was in my twenties that I felt a little less insecure about using Spanish. As I mentioned earlier, flying standby can be hard to negotiate costs, events, and planning for that matter. This is how I have felt about being bilingual for many, many years. So, how do I feel now? Better. Now I feel like I at least know which country I’m landing in and that Ill be able to get around, but know that every once in a while there may be a word or two I don’t know AND when that does happen Ill resort to the most appropriate language variety for that particular context.
Ciao, Au’revoir, Adios, Good-bye, and Adieus.