When I was a kid, just like any other kid, I wanted to be everything: a doctor, a musician, a designer, a journalist, even a writer. It was so easy back then; nobody required anything of you, there was no pressure and you just couldn’t wait to experiment with all the hobbies you could find. Then came the end of high school and there I stood, without a dream job, surrounded by people who seemed to shape that dream while I was preoccupied by teenage dramas and insecurities. That one was one of the hardest years ever. Then I picked one old old love, that was the love for foreign languages. And I said, Law is not for me, Medicine is something I didn’t prepare for in high school, I’m not that big of a drawer, although I’m not a total wreck either, I’m not into these micro-specialties (as I call them), like marketing, PR, social studies, European Studies etc. Well, I would be a liar not to say that I did dream about diplomacy and the European Studies option, but I dropped it, as the jobs-after-college list wasn’t that encouraging in an environment where, after I get my BA and MA, I’d better find a job and do great. Better said than done, I might say. So I chose foreign languages.
I loved English ever since I was about 7 and I learned new words from movies on TV. I was in intensive English classes in secondary school and in high school. I knew how to read when I was 5 or 6. My Christmas gifts were mainly stacks of books. Seemed like a good idea, don’t you think? So I majored in English and French literature. French, because French has its seductive way of luring you in and (as I was about to find out later) drain every single drop of pleasure derived from learning languages, only to fill it back in miraculously when you least expect it.
I was always second in my class and proud of my status, so A’s came easily enough. I’m trying to be on by best academic behavior even now, although after the session ends, my brain is fried and all I can think about is either sleep or laying on my back staring at the ceiling all day. My college mates always ask me how do I manage to learn so many things and I am never quite able to tell them how I do it. For me, it’s sort of like breathing, and I haven’t figured why I do that either, I just do it. It’s difficult to explain how I got to pass with a high grade while them, most of the time, hardly manage to pass.
How can you really say what makes you, you?
It’s like I forget how to speak when I’m around people that all want to know what makes me, me. I probably shouldn’t think that people come with their preconceived ideas and actually believe that they are genuinely naive in their curiosity. Sometimes I feel alone, surrounded by people. Sometimes I speak to those people and it seems that my words go through them, without finding any resonance with their own heart and their own opinions.I find someone and he/she gets something I said and I’m like ‘Can I please please please keep you? ‘ Of course not. Bye 15 minutes of connection, it’s been lovely. People don’t exchange opinions with me, they just nod. Did you see that movie? Nod. What did you think of it? Eh. I thought the special effects were a bit too much. And that scene, you know? that scene with….Staring through me and aha, said as if that person is far away from me and what I was just saying. Approval is nice, but sometimes all you really need is just conversation. Good, long conversations. And they are zombies. Me sleep, me eat, me go college, me notes, me bored, me eat, me bored, me tired, me sleep. Occasional me hangout in club/pub and that’s that. The lucky ones with boyfriends manage to have lousy sex (or not, but it’s an insult to admit you’re having incredibly delicious cake, while your friends are on a diet) and hang out with their special someone, so also me fuck and me ‘loves’ . And that’s so …basic. Isn’t life too short not to marvel about small things? Too short to spend it on the wrong people, sad and unsatisfied? Too short not to dream big? Well, not everybody seems to think so. And just as they want to know the way your brain/memory works, they want to absorb your dreams for the future: you go to MA A, I go to MA A; you have nice topic, I gonna take good topic too; you like that, I like that too, even if what I say I like is complete garbage. It’s like I’m surrounded by satellites and as flattering as it is, I don’t want to be their Earth.
So how do I explain someone that my brain deals with things as if they were a puzzle? How can they understand this hunger to know how this works, and how that works, not just approximately, but in detail? How can they understand the way I put every tiny thing onto another tiny thing and then someone mentions something about one of them and damn, I just know it, although I did it back in eleventh grade? I am still amazed surprised by the way my memory works and I lived with it for my ENTIRE life. So I leave them to speculate, if they do. A bit of distance is evident. Even the closest people sense it; you know, it’s something you see in the other person’s body language. And I like stories, their stories. I turn a problem, my problem or theirs on every side, trying to reshape it, to look at it differently, in order to find a solution. But no stories for me. Me gets story later, I’ll call you, we’ll talk. Never. They never really call back when they say they will, they are bored before I even get to the fun part, they are so busy following their orderly basic life, that I feel like I’m taking to the void and wish I could yell. But all I’ll be is a drama queen; they already have the orderly tag prepared, it won’t ruin their system.
I got the translation fever just as I got the grammar fever before, in high school , just because it’s the perfect puzzle. Meaning: what a small word and what great difficulties it holds. And yet, it’s essential to find meaning, whether it is in books, in translating something or in your own life. Grammar is boring, true, I’ll always hate learning its rules, but when I have a blank spaced sentence, finding its solution is magical. Addictive. How do words come together, what are the relations between them, do they agree with each other, do they oppose each other, are they harmonious together? It’s art. And translation…when I have a text in front of me and I cannot wait to start, to discover, to learn new things. Zombie world doesn’t understand that. They are pragmatic: why do I need this course? why do I need that one? To learn. This is the time when the brain delights in all the long nonsense it ingests. This is the time you’re young and you just take chances with everything.
So how do you actually explain to people that hate something and expect them to understand that something? It’s very very hard. I’ve taken that risk a couple of times and found myself surrounded with pragmatic people that clearly don’t want to take advantage of the variety of things offered to them. It kills all the fun. Then life goes by and damn, you realize there are so many things you wanted to do back when you were twenty, but that time is gone and you’re bitter and sad and look at those people who did risk something, who did manage to find THAT guy and did manage to be…happy. What we all want in this life.
I wouldn’t risk losing the most precious years of my life in not enjoying what I have and while my interior beautiful chaos is reserved to those who actually have their opinions and are not afraid to speak up, there’s not a single day in which I don’t think about how similar I am to them, and yet, it’s like I’m on a totally different tune from them. I’m an odd bird, one of a kind, just like everybody else. And while some are busy trying to enhance what they don’t really have, while leaving out those unspoken things so obviously contradictory that it’s insane how nobody notices them, I dream of the day in which someone manages to translate me, from the outside to the inside, with the same pleasure in which I like to deal with words in a sentence and the sentences in a text.