Hola amigos! Mr.YemenEm and I arrived back in one of my favorite places, Washington DC, to spend the summer in government training. The U.S. government is generous enough (ie, you taxpayers are) to provide spouses of Foreign Service Officers language training for upcoming posts. So that means I have spent the last seven weeks immersed in six hours of Spanish daily to prepare for our January move to Madrid. And it’s been wonderful. After my failed attempt (albeit my half-hearted attempt) to learn Arabic from dear, dear Mohammed when I was in Yemen, there was a small part of me that thought maybe I was just bad at languages. But learning Spanish has actually given me quite an ego boost. With one week of class left to go, I am able to say pretty much whatever I want. Well, I can express whatever idea, direction, background information, command, that I want, but certainly not using the words I’d like to use. Everything I say needs to be majorly dumbed down, but speaking like a 4-year-old who learned Spanish from her American mother is still quite an accomplishment for me.
Yesterday, my Spanish class took a field trip to the American History Museum where we had to describe several exhibits in Spanish. For example: “Esta es la cocina de Julia Child” and “Y aqui estan los zapatos rojos de Dorothy de ‘Wizard of Oz.'” We ended the field trip with a group lunch at Rosa Mexicana where we had to speak entirely in Spanish. At first, all of us students spoke just so-so. After one margarita, we spoke pretty darn well. After two margaritas, we were damn right fluent in Spanish and pretty much best friends with our El Salvadorian waiter. Which goes to show, inhibitions are a huge barrier to preventing foreign words from leaving one’s mouth. This bodes well for me in Spain, because me gusta mucho vino!
Mr.YemenEm and I have been living in a gorgeous loft apartment in a rapidly gentrifying area of DC that has at least a dozen new restaurants since I left here a year ago. We lucked into this apartment through AirBnB. The woman who owns it also has a place in Cape Cod where she is spending the summer writing her memoir. And I’ve been spending the summer enjoying the kitchen and grill (pizzas on the grill, hand-rolled Vietnamese spring rolls, and a four-course Southern-inspired dinner have been the highlights) and having friends over as much as possible.
At the moment in which I’m writing this, I’m sitting on an 800 square foot balcony propped up in a cushy chair sipping coffee with milk and surrounded by lush, deeply green plants whose names I cannot identify. Several brick three-story walk-ups poke over the foliage to remind me I’m in a city, which I would hardly even be aware of because birds are squawking their pretty little beaks off all around me. I will write for a while, make breakfast, and at some point today – no rush – I’ll go stand-up paddleboarding on the Potomac River. Someone told me the notoriously dirty river is the “cleanest its ever been,” and I take comfort in that. This might be controversial given the swamp-like nature of the summer months of this city, but I really love DC in the summer.