On my last night in Spain a week or so ago, we went out to dinner at the local restaurant and enjoyed a feast of tapas. The plates kept coming, one after another, and the one that stunned me the most was the piping hot goat’s cheese, battered and deep fried. Oh. My. Word. Was I in Spain, or transported to the Minnesota State Fair, where I’d just been parceled out some of their famous cheese curds by a sweaty teenager? I tried not to be too greedy. I did try.
What hit me, however, was how at that dinner I was no longer the translator-in-a-foreign country, but the one needing help. When I ordered my drink, I asked for a Diet Coke, to which the waiter looked at me blankly. The Brit-married-to-a-South-African-living-in-Spain sitting across from me quickly explained to the waiter that I wanted a Coca-Cola Light.
Ah, so often I play that role, when Americans come to visit and I count out their “play money” at the till (US: cash register) or warn them not to admire someone’s pants. Or tell my children that when we’re in America they use erasers on their pencils… So when in Spain, I was jolted into humility. We’re all foreigners somewhere.
Foreigners and strangers, longing for home. Longing for a place where you don’t need to translate. Where you’re understood and known and accepted. Where you belong.
Where is home for you?