Monday, November 2, 2009

A plane ride

Or, These Are The Kinds Of Letters I Write

I wanted to clarify my story of the Portuguese girl on the plane. The phone just wasn't right.

I was sitting at the end of a row of five seats, and the girl was two seats away. I was translating a play of Garcia Lorca's (Bodas de Sangre: Weddings of Blood!) into English, when she leaned over and asked, in Spanish, what I was studying. I explained. We talked for almost three hours. Her Spanish was slow and sparkled with that slightly rough sound of Portuguese (I am enamored of the language because they have a sound that seems to me vaguely Slavic: kind of like schkkkah). We talked about the differences in Latin American and North American attitudes towards strangers, the Three Brazils, Mexican food. She complimented my Spanish. She seemed genuinely impressed and thus I was genuinely flattered. Most people who say, "Your Spanish is so good!" are either being polite or have only had short, simple conversations with me. You can easily wow a person by being able to master the present tense and phrases like, "I love Argentina!" and "The day is so pretty."

She told me that she can never sleep on planes, but after three hours of conversation, around one in the morning, over the sea, we decided to try and sleep. She put up the arm rest and laid down and curled up. She was a tiny girl, with very curly hair. She put pillows behind her head but she wound up resting in the crook of my arm (if you could see me, I am making a motion to the inside of my elbow). I don't know if she realized she was sleeping against me. It was nice, though, the simple intimacy of it. Her curls on my skin and me, being careful not to breath too deeply. I didn't want to wake her up.

So that's what I was trying to tell you. Also, there was a guy reading Nietzsche in Portuguese in the aisle across from me. His wife probably thought I was checking him out, but really it was just the situation that was making me smile.

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