Dec 9, 2009


I have realized just now that I have never said the words “Te Amo” to anybody. I read them in corny, translated to Spanish, Harlequin books, heard Antonio Banderas huskily and sexily said them to irresistible women on TV, but never, not even once have I said those words to any living creature before. And for the first time since…ever, I have noticed it. What it’s in a name, Shakespeare would say, “A rose by any other name” and all that, love is love, amor, L’amour, Gram, Amore, etc. It shouldn’t matter what language I’ve said it in, but somehow it seems it holds more meaning if I say them in Spanish. What worries me is that I haven’t said them in Spanish to anybody before.

A name holds power, Dumbledore would say. Saying “You-Know-Who” gives power and sense of foreboding to a simple combination of dashes and words. Love or Amor should come out the same way to me, since both languages as just as easy, but Love in Spanish, holds a mysterious power for me.
I was tonight, in a haze of Shiraz, writing in my head my Christmas letter to a dear friend. You know one of friends who you cannot help but adore, one of those friends, who you don’t know why you love, one of those friend who stand against every principle you have, but a friend who has shared with you years of experiences, knowledge, a friend who has seen you at your worst, a friend who has cried with you, picked up your vodka puke, a friend who you don’t respect, but love nonetheless. A friend who knew you before you became you, a friend who knows your secrets, a friend who knows who you really are deep down, the geek, the slut, the insecure, the lame, the scared part of you and still loves you and for that you adore them. I was writing to them in my Shiraz inspired wisdom that I wished them a merry Christmas and in my head I wrote that I missed them in my life. As I wrote in my head the Christmas letter with a fond “You always made me smile” and a “I love you” I realized that I had to translate it to Spanish because it’s simply wrong to write to such an old friend in a foreign language… and then I couldn’t tell him all the things I had just written in my head in Spanish, I felt so much more comfortable baring my soul in a language that wasn’t my own.

Spanish it’s a romantic language, sexy, beautiful, “mysterious” to some, to me, however, it’s nothing else than an inflexible language that is as strict as an old nun who doesn’t let you wear makeup. I love English because it’s a language that allows you so many liberties; it allows you to do with it what you may. If you are creative enough you can do with it what you want. Kind of like Playdo or the Legos. Spanish allows no bullshit, no playing around. Spanish has one word for an irrefutable, undeniable, all consuming feeling and is Amor (love). You don’t use “Amor” on any other instance but I Amo my newborn baby or Amo my husband, or Amo my mom, or Amo my sister. There is no Amo my Levi Jeans in Spanish. In English Love has somehow lost all meaning. In Spanish there are levels of liking, or love, in English, colloquially at least, without getting poetic you have “like”, “love” and if you are creative enough, “adore”.

As romantic as the Spanish language is, I cannot be “romantic” with it. I can say the corniest, cheesiest, Nicolas Sparky things you can imagine in English and not bat an eye. The moment I have to say “I love you” in Spanish, I feel squeamish.

For the first time I have noticed that I have been hiding all this time behind the language. Not knowing all I’ve said held no meaning because I was hiding behind the meaningless barrier that speaking a foreign language lent me. I feel as if every word spoken has been a lie, a fraud, as if none of them had really come from the heart. My brain… well my brain and the writer in me, may speak fluent English but my heart is not bilingual and it speaks Spanish only.

So, officially to Dear Husband I will say. “Te amo, y confio en ti como nunca pense que confiaria en un hombre” and to that friend who has been my friend forever: “Ver tu foto siempre me hace sonreir”


ziRta said...

Hermoso post :)
¿Sabes? Me pasa exactamente lo mismo... Hace años tuve un querido amigo, chileno, que fue mi confidente. Cuando hablaba con él por IM, era en inglés... Porque eran cosas que sonarían demasiado serias y fuertes si lo hablábamos en español. Es curioso, pero así nos entendíamos mejor. Era usar el inglés como un escudo emocional...

Escuchar un "te amo" de la persona que tú también amas, es uno de los momentos más hermosos que he vivido :)


talia said...

I love it when you use Dumbledor quotes xD I realized that as well. I heard that it is that way too in German. They also don't use the word "love" lightly. I have never said it to a person. Not even a family member. We just say "te quiero mucho" we never say "te amo"
I think when we use it it's more for romance, than affection.

Mel82 said...

Gracias Rita por leer el post y por el comentario. Si hay definitivamente muchisimas cosas que son mas faciles de decir en un idioma extranjero que en el idioma de uno.

Yo noto a veces las cursilerias que estoy diciendome y me da risa porque en español jamas las diria!

Mel82 said...

Well you know Dumbledore is my hero!! lol. I love the English language but there has to be something lacking in a language that has to words for the action of "prestar" (lend and borrow) but one for love.

I don't know if it is the lack of alternatives which makes people here throw the "love" around as if it was any word, or if they are just "I love you" sluts. lol. I have been told "I love you" in English more often in eight years of being in this country, than in Spanish in my whole life. I definetely think people use that sentence too easily, as if it held no other meaning than I care for you.

talia said...

I wonder why there aren't any other words for love.