Like most people, I took four solid years of a foreign language in high school. And I remember next to nothing, aside from the fact that I had a ditzy, potentially senile 60-something for Spanish 3, and the fact that I got real lazy during one assignment and wrote, "Trabajo la trabaja" for one of my sentences (which is nonsensical and literally translates to, "I work the she works.").
Yesterday was my first day in a solid week that I wasn't running around all of New England, going to various appointments and meeting with potential clients (either to hire and be hired from). So, as my nature dictates, I celebrated my first day without anything on the agenda by running for an hour and a half and finally starting up my Spanish lessons.
I had bought Rosetta Stone for my husband as an anniversary gift, since he's half Argentinian and his knowledge of Spanish has been dwindling from "good understanding" to "basic understanding" to "I could survive if I needed to in a Spanish-speaking country, I think." And, like a proper middle class white person in their 20s, I'm obsessed with the idea of learning a second language. Given the insanity of everything at the moment, Rosetta Stone has been simply hanging out on my laptop, barely opened up since when we first installed it.
I know getting Rosetta Stone to learn a new language is right up there with getting jewelry from Kay Jewelers or going on vacation at a Sandals Beach Resort in the "prepackaged for your lazy first world consumption" category, but, really, why not try it out?
I've done four years of Spanish, I've done three semesters of Italian in college (I was *this* close to minoring in Italian. I was halfway there, only to find that I couldn't finagle any more Italian classes into my schedule). And yet I was fumbling around during my time in Italy, resorting to awkward smiles and dramatic hand gestures. And I still have no clue what the Spanish-speaking people next to me on the train are saying (because, really, isn't that why we want to learn additional languages? Just to make sure the people next to you aren't saying something disparaging about your appearance?)
I've set up a bit of a goal for myself: learn Spanish, become decent with it, and celebrate by spending time in Buenes Aires. Because, on top of learning the foundations of Spanish, I want to learn the Argentinian dialect. Argentinian Spanish is essentially what happens when you smash 8 parts Spanish with three parts Italian. The cadence, the melody, everything is very Italian. Including the very rapid speech (think Spanish soccer/football announcers fast). It seems like a perfect way to bring every full circle and learn more about the rich culture that my mother-in-law is from.
So I might be that person sitting a little too straight at the dining room table, yelling, "LA TIENDA!" into her laptop's microphone. But hey, we all got to start somewhere. And it beats falling asleep in a high school classroom.